COFFEE COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN )— The second suspect in a 2021 Coffee County arson case will soon be behind bars in a federal prison.

On Thursday, September 7, a federal judge sentenced 33-year-old Dezarae Wiggins to five years in a federal institution.

According to U.S. Attorneys, Wiggins and her accomplice, 48-year-old Charles Jones, previously pleaded guilty to starting a fire that nearly destroyed Car City Auto Sales in Brundige.

During the early morning of January 12, 2021, several Wiregrass fire departments responded to a fire at the car lot located along Highway 231. Firefighters were able to put out the blaze, but several buildings were destroyed, and the fire caused significant damage to nearly two dozen vehicles, auto parts and office equipment.

In a past WDHN report, Car City Auto Sales owners estimated the total damage at more than a million dollars.

U.S. Attorneys said that during a multi-agency investigation, it was determined the cause of the fire was arson, and surveillance video showed that Wiggins and Jones, a former employee of Car City Auto Sales, started the fire. The two were arrested in February 2021.

In June 2023, Jones was sentenced to thirteen and a half years in federal prison. Prisoners are not eligible for parole in the federal system.

In the coming months, a federal judge will conduct hearings to determine restitution for the fire victim.

Acts of arson can jeopardize the lives of community members and first responders. I am grateful for all of those who worked to extinguish the fire caused by the defendants, as well as the investigators that ensured the arsonists were brought to justice.

United States Attorney Sandra J. Stewart