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After car chase, GBI arrests man for homicide and arson in Eastman

The chase began in Bleckley County, and continued into Twiggs County where Butler crashed his car.

EASTMAN, Ga. — Update, 11:27 a.m. March 16

The GBI and Bleckley Sheriffs have arrested Joel Jared Butler after a car chase that began in Bleckley County and ended in Twiggs County.

According to a press release, Butler is charged with arson and malice murder.

The GBI says additional charges are expected. 

13WMAZ's Megan Western went to the scene, and said that Sheriff Robinson of Dodge County got information this morning that Butler would be in a home at 6234 Laurel Lane.

While sheriffs were searching the house, Sheriff Robinson got a call from Georgia Sate Patrol that Butler was in a car chase on highway 87.

The car chase began in Bleckley County, and continued into Twiggs County where Butler crashed his car.

He was arrested, and is in custody at Twiggs County Jail.

He is expected to be turned over to Dodge County authorities by the end of the day on Thursday. 


The GBI are investigating a homicide and arson case in Eastman, Georgia, according to a press release.

The release said that on Wednesday around 4:47 p.m., the GBI was called in to help assist with the arson and homicide.

It was revealed that 31-year-old Joel Jared Butler of Eastman killed 49-year-old William Harrell at 724 Old River Road.

Butler then se the house on fire.

They say fire call came into dispatch at 3:12 p.m. on Wednesday. 

Police obtained an arrest for Butler for one count of murder. He is also wanted for for an aggravated assault investigation which occurred on March 14, 2022, in Dodge County which is unrelated to this investigation.

Anyone with information regarding Butler’s whereabouts can call 478-374-6988 or Dodge County non-emergency 478-374-1691. 

Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS(8477), online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app.

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