By Jason A. Smith
A Henry County Police detective testified Friday that a witness claims to have seen a McDonough man, suspected of burning his girlfriend's house down, at the home minutes before the flames ignited.
David Elliotte Bolyard, 32, is charged with arson in the first degree and theft by taking. He has been held in the Henry County Jail on $200,000 bond since his arrest last month, and will answer the charges in Henry Superior Court.
Henry County Police believe Bolyard is responsible for a fire, which destroyed a home at 25 Brook Valley Drive in Stockbridge.
Authorities also contend he stole several items from the house, before setting it ablaze April 10, at approximately 11 a.m.
Bolyard was apprehended and charged with the crime April 13.
He appeared during a preliminary hearing in Henry County Magistrate Court Friday. During the proceedings, Henry Police Detective Christopher Bahleda said the fire appears to have started in an office at the rear of the residence, with the aid of accelerants.
"The safe in that room was wide open, and you could tell it was opened by a combination and not by drilling the locks," said Bahleda. "When a K-9 was brought in from the State Fire Marshal's Office, he went to several areas around the safe, and found a flammable ignition source."
Bahleda said a neighbor had videotaped footage of the fire, in which flames were seen emerging from the house, in the area which was determined to be the origin of the incident.
A search of the house was reportedly conducted after the flames were extinguished, and revealed the majority of the safe's contents were missing, police said. Included among the missing items, said Bahleda, were jewelry, gold nuggets and a .22 caliber revolver.
Attorney Gerald Privin, with the Public Defender's Office, questioned Bahleda on behalf of Bolyard. Bahleda told Privin it was "easy" to connect Bolyard to the fire.
"I have two witnesses who saw the vehicle he was driving ... at the scene of the fire," said Bahleda. "One [sighting] was within a half hour of the fire, and the other was within five minutes of the fire."
Privin then alluded to statements made by a defense witness, who claimed to have seen Bolyard at approximately 10:30 a.m., on the day of the fire.
Bahleda countered by saying the timeline Bolyard gave for his activities that day, did not line up.
Magistrate Judge Robert Godwin determined there was sufficient probable cause to bind Bolyard's case over to Henry County Superior Court, and added another $50,000 to his bond before adjourning the hearing.
Charges in a separate case against Bolyard were bound over May 1, to Henry Superior Court. He is suspected of a second count of arson, as well as criminal interference with government property and tampering with evidence.
No additional details were available Friday regarding those charges.