Woman charged with going on arson spree, police say

Shelby Leighann Nowell
Shelby Leighann Nowell Poplarville police

Emergency responders were busy Tuesday night as they investigated fires at two businesses, a home and in a city vehicle in a matter of hours.

A passerby saw flames jutting from the back of a barbershop off of Main Street in downtown Poplarville around 10 p.m. and called the fire department.

"The people who saw it were trying to extinguish the fire, but during that time there was a report of another fire at another business," Poplarville Police Chief Butch Raby said. "It ended up being a garbage can next to the building."

Within the same 30 minute timespan of battling fires at the barbershop and a tobacco shop, Raby said, emergency personnel were also called to extinguish a fire at a residence only blocks away. The next morning authorities learned a Pearl River County truck at the courthouse had also been torched, he said.

During the investigation, police noticed there was a break-in at one of the businesses and used surveillance video to identify Shelby Leighann Nowell as a suspect.

Nowell was arrested Wednesday on four counts of arson and a burglary charge stemming from the break-in. She's being held at the Pearl River County jail in lieu of a $40,000 bond.

The 25-year-old Poplarville residen was charged with using a lighter "and whatever articles were right there" to set the fires, Raby said.

"Thank goodness nothing burned down," he added. "There was just some minor damage."

Raby said other charges are possible as the investigation continues.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2326, @patrickochs