Three charged after Dorchester County school board member’s house burns

Shelva L. Valis

A Dorchester County School board member’s sister is among those charged after her house was torched.

District 2 Chairwoman Gail Hughes said she suspected her family was behind it after the house she inherited from her mother was gutted by fire Nov. 10. Investigators said the fire on Embassy Drive started in four places and they suspected arson.

Hughes also said jewelry and other items had been stolen from the house before it burned. She said she had been arguing with her brother-in-law when he was living in the yard in a trailer, and she forced him and her sister to move before the fire.

An investigation found Hughes’ sister drove her stepson and another to the house so the men could burglarize and burn the house, said Dorchester County sheriff’s Capt. Tony Phinney.

Hughes’ sister, Shelva L. Valis, 61, of West Steele Drive in Summerville, was arrested Monday and charged with first-degree burglary.

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

A warrant was issued for Valis’ stepson, Dwight Lee Valis II, 23, of Jedburg Road, on charges of first-degree burglary and third-degree arson. He was still at large Wednesday.

Valis was previously arrested 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 is out of jail on those charges on $4,260 bail.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.