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Mother & Daughter Planned To Burn Down House For Insurance Money

Last updated on Friday, July 25, 2014

(DANVILLE) - A mother and daughter set their house on fire to collect insurance money.

That's what authorities in Hendricks County say after arresting two Danville women on arson charges Tuesday. Deborah Willison, 53, and her daughter, Lanna Brown, 35, are accused of intentionally setting fire to the home at 203 Cook Ave. in Danville earlier this month. Investigators deemed the fire suspicious.

According to the probable cause affidavit, a young relative said Brown and Willison "talked openly" about burning down the home for insurance money. That relative told detectives that family members moved valuable items out of the home and into a storage facility. The relative was also asked to watch their cats while the family was out of town during the week before the fire, court documents said.

Police were also shown text messages referencing the fire. Another relative told police she'd heard family members talk about burning down the house.

When police questioned Brown and Willison, they originally said they were in Ohio at the time of the fire. They later admitted they were in Danville. Brown said she dropped her mother off at the residence late at night. Willison said she "tripped while holding a candle which started the fire," court documents said.

Investigators said Willison admitted she moved items from her house to the storage facility. She had collected a $2,500 check from her insurance company on July 17, police said. Records from Hendricks County show the home is worth about $56,000.

When police searched the storage facility, they found several items the women had claimed were lost in the fire. They also discovered "personal papers and pictures that could not be replaced if damaged in a fire," court documents said.

Charges against them include arson and insurance fraud.

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