Clay Co. woman’s alleged anger over eviction notice sparks arson
"Hey, the house is on fire. I think this lady has done started a fire."
CLAY COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott received a phone call from one of his deputies that he doesn’t normally get.
While deputies were serving an eviction order on Kimberly Jean Leggett, things took a dangerous turn.
The sheriff said his deputies don’t enjoy serving court orders for evictions, but they have a duty to the law.
“There’s no doubt, emotions were running high because of the eviction process, which is normal. We try to adjust to that and try to be understanding,” said Scott.
Leggett was the original owner of the house, but because of failure to pay an IRS tax debt, the house was no longer legally hers.
It now belonged to someone else.
“The home was actually taken through a tax lien process. So, somebody did actually own the house, that’s the reason for the eviction notice,” said Scott.
The new owners of the house gave the woman time to pack her belongings and leave the property.
“She had to be out by 3:30 yesterday afternoon because the new owner was placing new locks on the house,” said Scott.
But deputies said instead of grabbing her things and leaving peacefully, Leggett lit a fire in the back bedroom with the deputies still inside.
“In my 20-something-year career, to my knowledge, this is going be the first female that we’ve actually charged with arson,” said Scott.
As for the house that didn’t belong to Leggett…
“The house is from you know looking at it, it appears to be a total loss,” said Scott.
Although there were no injuries reported, the sheriff said the incident could have been a lot worse.
“You can’t cross the line and start damaging property that belongs to somebody else. In this case, right here, it went a little bit too far. Ended up with a house being burned and an individual in jail,” said Scott.
Leggett is expected to face more charges pending the completion of the arson investigation.