Second arson suspect arrested

Sweet Home police arrested a second suspect on Thursday, May 7, in connection with the April 2 arson of a Harding Street home on April 28.

Police arrested Elbert Hackworth, 50, of Sweet Home at his home at 1810 River St. at approximately 1:20 p.m. and charged him with first-degree arson and first-degree criminal mischief. He was lodged in the Linn County Jail.

Hackworth is alleged to have accompanied Tina Marie Gibbs on the night of the fire and assisted her in setting fire to the home, Police Chief Bob Burford said.

Sgt. Jason Van Eck said Hackworth and Gibbs are friends.

The early morning fire at 2306 Harding St. was discovered by a Sweet Home police officer on patrol. The fire was close to a care home for disabled adults, and emergency personnel were prepared to evacuate the residents if necessary. The fire was safely extinguished by the Sweet Home Fire Department but the single-story home was a total loss. The care facility received only minor fire damage to an exterior wall.

Prior to the fire, the home had recently been sold and the new owner had been forced to evict the previous long-term tenants, including Gibbs and her family.

Burford said he expects no further arrests in the case.

“The detectives put a lot of work in on this case from the beginning,” Burford said. “Arsons are very difficult cases to solve by their nature.

“Especially when these involve residences, we pull out all the stops. In this case, it was a matter of running down lots of leads and talking to people that finally led to a break in the case and led to an arrest.”

Sweet Home Police Department has investigated two arsons so far this year, and in both cases, the police have made arrests.

In the first case this year, an RV, the arsonist has already been sentenced.