PITT COUNTY -

A Pitt County man is charged with attempted murder and arson for allegedly setting a home on fire while two people were sleeping inside.

The Pitt County Sheriff's Office said 61-year-old William McKinley Sheppard set fire to a home on the 1600 block of Belvoir Highway, just north of Greenville, on Tuesday.

Investigators said two people were sleeping in the house when Sheppard set it on fire. They were able to escape and were not hurt.

Karen Mabry says if she didn't smell smoke, she could have died.

"If I hadn't woke up that morning and smelled that smoke they told me that we would have been dead," she said.

The Sheriff's Office said the motive is domestic-related.

Rodney Mabry says they used to be friends but a dispute after a card game ruined the friendship.

"He used to take me into work, lets make me a little money, so I did that," he said. "I didn't know it was going to conflict on me and changing on me and stuff," he said.

Sheppard lives on the same road as the victims, said investigators. He was later arrested and charged with two counts of attempted murder, one count of first-degree arson, one count of attempted first-degree arson, and one count of first-degree burglary.

Sheppard was being held in the Pitt County Detention Center under a $500,000 secured bond.

According to the Sheriff's Office, the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are possible.

Sheppard has a criminal history, including previous charges of larceny, possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and forgery, the Sheriff's Office said.