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Smithfield Church Fire Ruled Arson

Posted April 24, 2007

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— Investigators on Tuesday determined that a weekend church fire in Johnston County was set.

Smithfield police discovered the fire at Whitley Memorial United Methodist Church Sunday morning while investigating a break-in at a nearby business.

Alvin Parrish, 17, has been charged with breaking into a convenience store and stealing three cases of beer, then breaking into the church.

No one has been charged with arson in connection with the church fire.

Police said three people are wanted for questioning in the church break-in and fire.

Officials said they believe the church's main sanctuary is damaged beyond repair. Church members said they hope they can hold service in a smaller sanctuary on the property.


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  • Lightfoot Apr 24, 2007

    This is all God's plan. We're just too stupid to understand.

    People break into churches because security is usally quite light (i.e. no alarm and God's asleep), and there's audio/visual stuff to steal and pawn.

  • 2alegal Apr 24, 2007

    Dr. James Dobson - Love Must Be Tough.

  • trytoberational Apr 24, 2007

    everyone needs direction in there life and good people to give it

  • trytoberational Apr 24, 2007

    ckat you sound like a truly careing person i'm not trying to bash you in fact I commened you for your efforts I don't know this boy or his family or any history of him but I do know that sometimes being scared just isn't enough lets not depend on that alone sometimes in some cases tough love is necessary don't let him rot in prison but also don't be to quick to get him out of trouble when he gets in it

  • cheekygreek Apr 24, 2007

    ckat:I agree with every single word you have said.He is a life worth changing.

  • ckat Apr 24, 2007

    Again all that goes back to your parents and what they will allow a child to do. I can't speak for the other individuals. I totally agree that Lee has to be held accountable for his actions, my point is that he doesn't allow the "majority view" of him to cause him to give up on life and say what is the point nobody cares. I am sure he will receive a punishment that will make him pay his debt for his criminal actions. He is 17 which means he still has a chance to change his life for the better. I hope and pray that his punishment will help him to be rehabilitated and not thrown in a prison to sit and stare at walls, that is what causes the repeat offenders. I know that Lee was not acting out of MEANNESS. I am not excusing anything that he did. I just know I saw the look in his eyes when he was sobering up and realizing what he did and that also the world thinks he did this to a church. He is scared. and maybe he will
    remember that and be scared straight.

  • trytoberational Apr 24, 2007

    Benson I agree community action wil do nothing but help the problem lies in that it is an older community and most of the older folk don't want to get involved not to mention lack of leadership and direction for such thing like a community watch or something along those lines as for the one who are the problem they don't want to see a change all things are just how they want it now cheap and easy

  • Salty Apr 24, 2007

    CKAT, are you defending this young man and making excuses for his actions? are those your kids running around stealing stuff and drinking at the age of 13? what about breaking into a church? and after they do all this do you pat them on the back and tell them good job? you dont come across that way, and i certainly doubt it. i think you misunderstood me though. all i am saying is that if you look at the rate of repeat offenders, and when most lifetime criminals start going that route it is in their mid to late teens. as far as my experience goes, i have been in his shoes more than you could understand yourself. and it took me several tries and "lessons" before i finally realized the root of my problems. on top of that, while talking to other young men who were in the same place as me, most of them were talking about how they couldnt wait to get home and go get drunk with their buddies. like i said, its sad and unfortunate, but its also quite usual.

  • 2alegal Apr 24, 2007

    ckat....if that is true, he should not have run and stood to help catch the crooks.......You know its too bad they haven't been seen since....They too have been told what the deal is too. I have even offered to spend time with them and help get them back into school and do things with them.....One said he wanted to change and has never shown back up.

  • 2alegal Apr 24, 2007

    Try.......My family has a zero tolerance. We have changed our area some but when money hungry people rent their properties to thugs, and you hear "well they are paying the rent", ...what can we do other than call police and hope/pray they come...We call them almost on a daily basis. Once they pick up a thug, they always let them back out and onto the street again. Society needs some major uphauling and soon. The store and church incident is just the beginning of a lot more and possibly worse in that area until its residents step up and stand tall...........