Case Info

Incident date:
Sex: Male

On Friday, March 22, 2002, at approximately 3:25 A.M., a passing truck driver observed a residential fire at the Wideman home, 13875 Highway 112 East, Rebecca , GA and notified authorities. The Turner County volunteer fire department responded. Firefighters found the one-story home fully involved and sustaining significant damage. The roof collapsed within minutes after firefighters arrived. Wideman family vehicles were present; however, none of the Widemans could be located. When the fire was extinguished, the badly-burned bodies of Tommy Joe Wideman, age 51, Deborah Ann Wideman, age 48, and their eight months pregnant daughter Melissa Ann Wideman, age 20, were found.

Tommy Joe was the Chief Tax Assessor for Turner County . Deborah owned a bridal shop, The Oak Tree, in downtown Ashburn, and Melissa was a student. Autopsies revealed each had been shot to death prior to the fire, which was determined to be the result of arson. The Widemans did not socialize much and had limited contact with area relatives. All valuable items appeared to be in appropriate places, indicating robbery was an unlikely motive for these crimes. No eyewitnesses have been identified, nor have any suspected murder weapons been located. Investigators are seeking any information from the public that may help solve this case.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the GBI Regional Office in Perry at 478-987-4545 or the GBI tip line at 1-800-597-TIPS.