Local News

Authorities offer $10K reward in Clayton church fires

Posted June 8, 2009 10:56 a.m. EDT
Updated February 13, 2011 11:33 a.m. EST

— Authorities announced Monday a reward of up to $10,000 for information that helps solve the burning of a Clayton church hit by two fires exactly a month apart.

Investigators believe that fires were intentionally set at Mount Calvary Baptist Church, 5217 Barber Mill Road, in the early hours of May 6 and June 6. Police said the most recent fire likely damaged the church beyond repair.

"Every indication is that this weekend's fire was set by the same person or persons that set the May 6 fire," Clayton Police Chief Glen B. Allen said. "We urge anyone that might have information about this appalling crime to come forward."

The church's insurance provider, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the State Bureau of Investigation and the Clayton Police Department are offering the reward.

Anyone with information about should call Clayton police at 919-553-4611, Clayton Crime Stoppers at 919-359-8479 or 911. Callers to Crime Stoppers never have to identify themselves.

Investigators said they are considering all possibilities for a motive, including whether someone had a grudge against the church's staff or its members.

"Right now, we're looking at any possibility," Clayton Police Capt. John Gerrell said. "We don't have any specific suspects right now."

Church pastor Rev. Darrell Sauls said this weekend's fire originated in both the sanctuary and Sunday School wing. The fire toppled the church's steeple and destroyed repairs from the May 6 fire.

The earlier fire left two holes in the church's roof and caused extensive damage to the sanctuary. Investigators found that the sanctuary and community center had been broken into May 6, but nothing was nothing was stolen.

This Sunday, Amelia Christian Church lent its old sanctuary for the 100-member Mount Calvary congregation to hold services. After the first fire, the congregation met in a local funeral home and then the church's community center.

Mount Calvary has had a congregation in Clayton for almost a century, and the building that burned was built in the 1980s, Sauls said.

"I definitely think it not only affects the community, it affects the people that go to church, the people that visit that church, the families of the people of that church," Gerrell said. "It affects so many people. It's a terrible crime."