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Read more about GBI Investigates Death and Arson in Eastman, GA

On Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at 4:47 p.m., the GBI was requested to assist with an arson and homicide investigation. Preliminary information revealed that Joel Jared Butler, age 31, of Eastman, killed William Harrell, age 49, of Eastman, at 724 Old River Road Eastman, GA and then set the house on fire. The fire call was dispatched at 3:12 p.m. on March 15, 2023. 

Police obtained an arrest warrant for Butler for one count of murder. Butler is also wanted for an aggravated assault investigation which occurred on March 14, 2022, in Dodge County which is unrelated to this investigation (not investigated by the GBI).  

Anyone with information regarding Butler’s whereabouts or with information about this investigation is asked to 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, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app.