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Wednesday, June 8, 2022

The Candice Walton Arson-Murder Case

     Tasha Vandiver lived in Monroe County Georgia a few miles southwest of Forsyth, a rural town of 3,700 in the central part of the state. The 46-year-old resided in a house with her 21-year-old learning disabled son Gerald Walton and her 16-year-old daughter Candice Walton.

     At three-thirty in the morning of Thursday February 27, 2020 someone reported a fire at the Vandiver/Walton house. When firefighters arrived at the scene the structure was fully involved.

     Firefighters while sifting through the debris found two bodies. Tasha Vandiver and her son Gerald were identified as the fire scene casualties. A cause and origin investigator determined that the house fire was incendiary--intentionally set. From this point on the case was investigated as an arson-murder. The fire was started on the living room couch and spread so fast the occupants of the dwelling, Tasha Vandiver and her disabled son Gerald Waltan, were unable to get out of the house in time. The victims died from carbon monoxide poisoning. 

     Notably missing from the destroyed house was 16-year-old Candice Walton. Because the family car, a 1967 white Chevrolet Malibu was also missing from the dwelling, investigators assumed that the teenager had taken off with the car. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) opened a missing person case and issued broadcast alerts for the girl's apprehension.

     At three in the afternoon that Thursday, about 12 hours after firefighters put out the fire, a sheriff's deputy in McCracken County, Kentucky near the city of Paducah spotted Candice Walton sitting at a gas station in the white Chevrolet Malibu. The deputy detained the girl until U. S. Marshals took her into custody. She was arrested 450 miles northwest of her home in Monroe County, Georgia.

     The day after Walton's arrest GBI agents questioned her at the McCracken County Juvenile Detention Center. A search of the white Chevrolet Malibu produced evidence that connected the teenager to the house fire and deaths of her mother and brother.

     A Monroe County, Georgia prosecutor charged Candice Walton with two counts of murder, one count of arson and several counts of theft.

     At her arraignment in McCracken County the suspect refused to waive extradition. That meant the state of Kentucky had 60 days to hold an extradition hearing. In the meantime, Candice Walton was held in Kentucky without bail.

     Once back in Georgia, Candice Walton was held at the Macon Regional Youth Detention Center. The Monroe County prosecutor indicated that Walton would be prosecuted as an adult.
     After confessing to stealing cash from her mother's tax rebate, Candice Walton said she set the fire and stole her mother's car so she could drive to Oregon to start a new life with her boyfriend. In February 2022 she pleaded guilty to all counts and was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole when she turned 48. 

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