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Rockingham Co. Fire Marshal: Solving Church Arsons is Top Priority

11:42 PM, Mar 7, 2013   |    comments
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Wentworth, NC - Rockingham County Fire Marshal Robert Cardwell says he's made solving the string of church fires a priority.

"A lot of people do not realize that information that they may be sitting on right now is vital information to us because they may have seen something and be saying it's irrelevant, probably nothing to it but at the same time, there probably may be something to it," said Cardwell.

Cardwell said it was information from a person that led them to identify a person of interest.

READ: Deputies Release Vehicle Description in Rockingham County Church Fires

Witnesses say they saw a 1980s faded green Honda Accord on Gideon Grove Church Road right around the time the Gideon Grove United Methodist Church fire was reported Dec. 23.

READ: Church Fire Destroyed by Fire in Rockingham County

Since then, three other churches have been set on fire in Rockingham and Guilford Counties.

Cardwell believes they are all connected and are all arson. 

WFMY News 2's Morgan Hightower spoke with Cardwell Thursday afternoon. He says at this point, they have more questions than answers. 

"It's a very difficult thing to do, you've just got to look at every avenue, every possible avenue of anything that may be of interest to the case, and you've got to look at the personalities of the person who might be doing this and try to get inside their heads and understand well, 'why would I burn churches? Why would I have it against Methodist churches?' We have set and we have looked at different angles, different avenues, you know what is it that has joined all these churches together? They're all United Methodist churches but is there another common bond?" explained Cardwell. 

Private Investigator Ed Cobbler thinks the arsonist is a male in his 20s or 30s and is a loner. He believes the fact that all the churches are United Methodist Churches is personal.

"I think it's a person who has some problems, possibly some mental problems, could be a fire bug, could be a wannabe firefighter, someone who has had some trouble in the past, but it could be a person who just enjoys watching things burn," explained Cobbler. 

Authorities are asking anyone with any information to come forward. You can call Rockingham County Crimestoppers at 336-349-9683. All callers are anonymous. You can also call 1-800-A-T-F-FIRE. The ATF offers a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

WFMY News 2

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