Arrest made in case of 80-year-old Georgia man found dead in fire

DOUGLAS — The GBI Douglas Office has arrested 52-year-old James Schmit, of Douglas, in connection with the death of 80-year-old John Lark Conley.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Schmit is charged with one count each of felony murder, aggravated assault, and arson.

Schmit is being held in the Coffee County Jail.

On Friday, August 26, at 6 a.m., the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call that a family member was requesting a welfare check at Conley’s home off Hwy. 32 West in Douglas.

Deputies arrived and found the house on fire. After the fire was extinguished, deputies found Conley dead inside the home.

An autopsy will be conducted on Conley at the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office in Pooler.

The investigation is active and ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office (912-367-8305) or the GBI Douglas Office (912-389-4103).Anonymous tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS (8477), online athttps://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile.

Reminder: Crime articles contain only charges and information from police reports and law enforcement statements. Suspects and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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