I would like to thank the Pratts/Friendship Fire Department, Baldwyn Fire Department and numerous volunteers that assisted in preserving the Barnett Bridge crime scene. Their efforts and response have been a tremendous help in this case.
I also would like to thank Mississippi State Fire Marshal Supervisor Jonathan Owens, Deputy State Fire Marshal Jim Littlejohn, and the Lee County Criminal/Fire Investigator Brian Kilgore for their hard work and determination on this case.
On September 22, 2020, 911 dispatch received a call reporting a fire on CR 1213 at the specific location of Barnett Bridge. This bridge is located in the Pratts Community and is one of the oldest bridges in Lee County. It is made of solid wood and was being used as a means of transportation until the fire.
The Pratts/Friendship and Baldwyn Fire Departments arrived at the scene of and were able to extinguish the fire before the structure was completely destroyed.
Once the fire was extinguished, the Lee County Sheriff’s Department, with the assistance of the Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s Office, was contacted to investigate. Prior to the Lee County Sheriff’s Department and State Fire Marshals arrival, information about the fire was released that somewhat compromised the investigation. Because this information was released to the public, a large portion of the investigators time was spent separating fact from fiction.
While at the scene, evidence was collected by the Lee County Sheriff’s Department and State Fire Marshal’s Office and will be sent to the Mississippi Crime Lab for analysis.
Several people gave statements to investigators and two people were transported to the Lee County Sheriff’s Department for questioning. The Investigation lead to a person of interest. They were able to piece a timeline that revealed the suspect was at the Barnett Bridge the early morning of September 22, 2020. While at the bridge she committed a malicious act that resulted in the bridge catching fire. We don’t believe at this time that her intent was solely to burn the bridge but her malicious actions caused this fire.
The evidence about the case was presented to the District Attorney John Weddle and Assistant District Attorney Josh Wise and a recommendation was made regarding charges.
On Saturday September 25, 2020, the Lee County Sheriff’s Department and the Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s Office filed charges in Justice Court. Bond was set at $25,000.00 by Judge Hopkins.
Katelyn Hollis Baldwyn, MS 26 years of age
Felony Malicious Mischief