Could a student at Gordon State College, dying of cancer and pledging to a fraternity, really be the one behind the structure fires that occurred in Upson and Lamar counties in January? Possibly. But inconsistencies in an anonymous letter allegedly typed by the unnamed student and sent to both law enforcement agencies and news media lead to the question of who the real letter writer is.
Travis Leroy Ball, 46, of Warner Robins, is the alleged serial arsonist accused of setting numerous house fires in Upson and Lamar counties. Ball was arrested in Barnesville on Jan. 8, following a traffic stop, and charged with arson related to numerous fires in Lamar County. He has also been charged with an Upson County fire that occurred on Dec. 28 and three more fires in Upson that occurred on Jan. 7. All of the structures were vacant houses.
Letters concerning the fires have been received by the Upson and Lamar County Sheriff’s Offices, The Thomaston Times, the Barnesville Gazette, and WMAZ in Macon. The gist of the letter is that a student at Gordon, who is dying of cancer, confesses that he and fellow students pledging a fraternity at Gordon burned the houses down as part of new member initiation and to create jobs for those involved in rebuilding the homes. He goes on to state that “by the time my truck driving dad mails this, I’ll probably should or will be dead.”
Some of the inconsistencies in the the letter are: The letter to The Times was dated January 20, 2013, but was sent March 5, 2013. It had a Post Office box in Thomaston listed as a return address, but the certified letter was postmarked in Warner Robins, the hometown of Ball. And a check with Gordon College finds that there are no fraternities at the school. The Times turned the letter over to the Upson County Sheriff’s Office for further investigation.
Ironically, Ball, who posted $20,000 bail in Lamar County and a $150,000 cash bond in Upson County, has been arrested and is jailed again in Lamar County for violation of the terms of his bail, which included wearing an electronic ankle bracelet, staying in the vicinity of his home in Houston County, and abiding by a curfew. Ball was arrested by Lamar County officers after he allegedly went to a WalMart at 3 a.m. in the morning, violating the distance he was allowed to travel and the curfew requirements.