*Press Release From Watauga County Sheriff’s Office*
On Friday, August 12, 2016, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call at 5:38 AM in reference to a structure fire located at Valle Landing, 3657 US Highway 194 South, Sugar Grove, North Carolina. Officers from the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, Watauga County Fire Marshal’s Office, Boone Fire Department, Beaver Dam Fire Department, Cove Creek Fire Department, Foscoe Fire Department, Meat Camp Fire Department, Shawneehaw Fire Department and Zionville Fire Department responded to the scene of the fire. Upon arrival initial units discovered that the structure located at that address was engulfed in flames and had been totally destroyed by the fire.
Since August, 12, 2016, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, the Watauga County Fire Marshal’s Office, Boone Fire Department, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have continued to investigate the fire. Numerous interviews have been conducted by the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and the Watauga County Fire Marshal’s Office with witnesses, owners of the buildings and community members to gather information about the fire.
On August 31, 2016, Benjamin Draughon Williford was charged and arrested for First Degree Arson in this incident.
As a result of the interviews and investigation into this incident the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office in consultation with the District Attorney’s Office charged and arrested Benjamin Draughon Williford with three counts of Assault with a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Injury for the injuries to the occupants of the apartments and one count of First Degree Murder for the death that occurred as a result of the fire. Benjamin Draughon Williford was served with the warrants and taken before the District Court of Watauga County and held without bond. Benjamin Draughon Williford was given a probable cause court date of October 25, 2016.