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Cartersville Police: Man sets fire to neighbor's house for not mowing lawn

2:15 PM, May 16, 2013   |    comments
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CARTERSVILLE, Ga. (WXIA) -- Police are searching for the man they say burned down a neighbor's house Wednesday morning because, as the neighbor tells 11Alive News, the man was angry that the neighbor had not mowed his lawn -- the grass was too tall.

Cartersville police consider the man, Phillip Roger Bennett, 58, to be armed and dangerous.

The neighbor, Marty Corbitt, and his three year old daughter, Kylie, were inside their home on Boatner Ave. when he says Bennett "went complete psycho."

"The mean man burned my house," Kylie said to 11Alive's Jon Shirek as Marty held her in his arms outside their burned shell of a house.

Marty Corbitt says Bennett had been angry for about a week that Corbitt had not mowed his lawn, and was cursing and yelling at him. Corbitt says Bennett even slapped him.

"Slapped me across the face and said, 'Mow your grass,'" Corbitt says. "My grass was too tall for him. I was going to cut it today, and then he set my house on fire."

Corbitt and Bennett live across the street from each other.

Wednesday morning, when the wife and mom, Katie Corbitt, was at work, Marty Corbitt says Bennett walked over again, and this time threatened to kill him.

"He kicks my door, tells me I've got five seconds to come outside.  I turn around and call 911.  And while I'm on the phone he comes back with two gas cans in his hand.  Walks up to my kitchen door again, takes a gas can, smashes it against the glass, breaks the first pane.  Then he turns around and grabs a brick, throws it through the window. And then he grabs a gas can and starts pouring it into the kitchen. And as he's pouring he takes his lighter and lights it. And flames were everywhere. I ran back to my little girl's room, grabbed her, ran out the back door over to my neighbor's and watched the house burn."

Corbitt says he and his family have lived in the house, his grandmother's house, for about four years, and says Bennett has lived across the street for about that long.

"I honestly can't imagine what goes through someone's head to make them want to murder someone and their child over grass. He was actually a pretty good neighbor up until last week. And then he just went complete psycho."

"The mean man burned my house," Kylie said again.

Katie Corbitt fought back tears. "The fact that my little girl was in the house when he started that fire...."

Cartersville police actually had Phillip Bennett on the phone Wednesday afternoon, trying to talk him into surrendering.

They say Bennett has an extensive criminal history. They are asking anyone who sees him to call 911.

They describe Bennett as white, with gray and white hair, 6-1, 220 lbs.

He was last seen driving a 1997 Ford Ranger pickup truck, either maroon or dark red in color.

The truck has a Georgia tag: BLP6438.


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