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Teen 'Died in a House Fire' —Until Cops Pulled Her Over

Candace Walton, 16, has been charged with arson and murder
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2020 4:00 PM CST

(Newser) – A Georgia teen who appeared dead in a fire turned out to be alive and well—and now faces murder and arson charges, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The tale began when authorities responded to a raging house fire in Monroe County early Thursday and identified two bodies inside as Candace Walton, 16, and her brother Gerald Walton, 21. But a Chevrolet Malibu belonging to Gerald's mom, 46-year-old Tasha Vandiver, was oddly missing: "That's what kind of makes this whole thing a little suspicious," Monroe County Sheriff Brad Freeman told 13WMAZ at the time. "She may have left before. She may have had a pre-planned trip. We don't know."

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Later that day, a nationwide lookout for the car led Kentucky police to pull it over—and there was Candace behind the wheel. Police tell the Macon Telegraph she was headed to Oregon to be with her boyfriend and they found "some incriminating things" in the vehicle. Now Candace has been charged with arson, theft by taking, and two counts of murder, and faces extradition to Georgia, the Barnesville Herald-Gazette reports. The fire's second victim is likely Vandiver, but official results aren't in yet. Little else is known, but an ex-teacher says Gerald was a special needs student: "He just generally loved everyone," she tells 13WMAZ. "He never would say a negative word about anybody. Just always a sweet, sweet soul, and it's just a tragedy that we lost him." (Read more arson stories.)

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