NASHVILLE (WATE) – The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office Fire Investigations Section announced two separate arson-related convictions in Tipton and McMinn counties. They said state fire investigators played a significant role in helping to bring the arsonists to justice.
In McMinn County Criminal Court, Jerry Livingston pleaded guilty on May 2017. He was sentenced to three years in a state correctional facility and ordered to pay restitution for attempting to burn his Athens home on June 24, 2015 for financial gain.
The state fire marshal’s office said Linda Anne Dunavant was convicted by a Tipton County jury on July 21, 2017 of crimes related to an April 1, 2016 fire in Covington that claimed the lives of her two grandchildren, a 6-month-old and an 18-month-old. Dunavant was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate arson, two counts of aggravated arson, two counts of aggravated child neglect, and one count of aggravated assault.
Jessica Cuningham, the mother of the two girls, wasn’t at home at the time of the fire. She said her children were being watched by her mother.
“The State Fire Marshal’s Office has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to arson and arson-related crimes,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance Deputy Commissioner Gary West. “Our team works in tandem with state and local partners to help bring arsonists to justice and ensure arsonists are apprehended and convicted. I congratulate our investigators and our local partners on the successful conclusions of these two cases.”
To report a suspected arson, call the Tennessee Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017. The Arson Hot Line is a phone line dedicated to receiving information about suspicious and incendiary fires. It is answered 24 hours a day and you may remain anonymous when providing information. Cash awards are offered for information leading to an arrest or conviction.