Arson suspect in Dorchester school board member’s house fire arrested

Dwight Lee Valis II

A Dorchester County school board member’s nephew has been arrested on an arson charge after her house was torched.

Dwight Lee Valis II, 23, of Jedburg Road was arrested Wednesday on charges of first-degree burglary and third-degree arson, sheriff’s Capt. Tony Phinney said. He is being held in the Dorchester County jail.

The house that District 2 Chairwoman Gail Hughes inherited from her mother was gutted by fire Nov. 10. Investigators said the blaze on Embassy Drive near Summerville started in four places and they suspected a botched arson in an attempt to cover up a burglary.

Hughes said jewelry and other items had been stolen from the house before it burned.

An investigation found Hughes’ sister, Shelva L. Valis, 61, of West Steele Drive in Summerville, drove Dwight Valis, her stepson, to the house with another man so they could burglarize and burn the house, Phinney said.

Shelva Valis was arrested and charged with first-degree burglary.

Charles Ralph Lee Willis, 19, of Red Barn Lane in Summerville was arrested and charged with first-degree burglary and third-degree arson.

Dwight Valis had been arrested and released on bail a few days after the house burned after jewelry that Hughes said was taken from the house turned up at a pawnshop near Summerville. The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office charged him with receiving stolen goods and obtaining money by false pretenses. He was out of jail on those charges on $4,260 bail.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.