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UPDATE: 4th suspect arrested in arson, burglary of Ruston home

Young Ruston mother victim of arson

RUSTON, La. - UPDATE (6/18/18): The Office of State Fire Marshal has arrested a Ruston woman in a Memorial Day arson and burglary case that has already netted three other arrests.

Tina Hood (DOB 8/27/72) was booked Saturday, June 16, for Illegal Possession of Stolen Things. She was picked up from a home in Springhill and booked into the Webster Parish Correctional Facility as a fugitive. She will be transferred to the Lincoln Parish Jail to face the Cook Road charges. A mugshot was not available at the time of this release.

Suspects Steven Ledford and Chase Smelley both told investigators that Tina Hood drove Smelley and suspect Grace Hood to Ledford’s residence to pick up and transport the items that he had stolen from a home, which he also set on fire, in the 2600 block of Cook Road in Ruston on Monday, May 28. Ledford said he offered the three meth in exchange for their help selling the items.

The property, identified as being from the Cook Road trailer, included electronics and weapons.

Ledford faces one count of Simple Arson, one count of Aggravated Burglary, one count of Criminal Trespassing and three counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

Smelley and Grace Hood were booked into the Lincoln Parish Jail Tuesday, June 12, for Possession of Stolen Property.


UPDATE (6/13/18 at 4:30 p.m.): The State Fire Marshall's Office has arrested the suspect accused of the burglary and arson of a home in Ruston.

An arrest warrant was obtained for the additional suspect, Steven Dale Ledford, 31.

Ledford is currently being held in the Lincoln Parish Detention Center on charges of simple arson, one count of aggravated burglary, one count of criminal trespassing and three counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.


UPDATE (6/13/18): The Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal has arrested a man and woman from Ruston for possessing and selling property stolen from a trailer that was eventually set on fire.

Christopher “Chase” Smelley (DOB 5/17/96) and Grace Louise Hood (DOB1/12/99) were booked into the Lincoln Parish Jail Tuesday, June 12, for Possession of Stolen Property.

On Monday morning, May 28, the OSFM was contacted by the Lincoln Parish Fire Department to assist in determining the origin and cause of a fire at a home in the 2600 block of Cook Road in Ruston.

The homeowner told investigators she noticed several oddities once the fire was extinguished, including multiple pieces of property missing and the front door being locked, which she says she never locks. Investigators found two areas of origin for the fire and determined it to be incendiary.

On Monday, June 11, investigators tracked down Smelley and Hood, who were persons of interest in the case. In an interview with investigators, Smelley admitted to accepting the property from an additional suspect to sell it for that suspect. Smelley claimed that suspect admitted stealing the property and setting the trailer on fire.

The property, identified as being from the Cook Road trailer, included electronics and weapons. Despite Smelley and Hood having sold some of the items already, investigators have recovered all of the property except one weapon and a poker set.

This investigation is still on-going and additional arrests are possible.

We will continue to update this article as more information becomes available.



26 year old Ruston mother victim of arson

Piles of debris and ash cover the yard where Taylor Craigheart's six year old daughter once played. 

"Everything's pretty much gone inside and we get to the porch and we realize tvs and everything are gone...or had been stolen," says Taylor Craigheart.

Her home didn't burn down by accident. Someone broke in stole what he or she wanted then set the place on fire. 

"They went into my little girls room and that's when they realized that one [tv] was gone and that's when they realized someone stole stuff. They searched and couldn't find guns and other stuff that shouldn't have melted."

Two things that remained throughout the blaze - Taylor's Bible and a teddy bear made out of her late grandfather's t-shirt for her daughter. 

Investigators say the fire started in two places - the master bedroom and the living room.

Taylor's cousin, Jennifer Tradewell, was devastated by the news and decided to do something to help the single mother get back on her feet.

"This community is known for its want and need to help others", Tradewell says.

She's asking people to donate items to the Crossfit gym in Ruston. She says Taylor and her daughter need everything. Taylor wears a size 4/6 or small in woman's clothing. Her daughter wears a 5/6 in kids. 

"It's mattresses it's bedding it's furniture it's washer and dryer clothes...you know regular pots and pans. Things that you might not think about but you use everyday."

Craighead says she is blown away by the amount of support she's received. 

"It's unbelievable...I never imagined it to be this big."

Officials are still investigating this crime. They confirm they do have a person of interest but no arrests have been made yet. This story will be updated as more information becomes available. 

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