Police arrest two teens in church arson investigation

The 120-year-old Grandview Apostolic Church burned down July 14th

Rich Van Wyk/Eyewitness News

Brown County - Police have made arrests in the arson that destroyed a historic Brown County church. State fire investigators found evidence against two teenagers in the case.

Church members are already fixing up a new home for their small congregation. The arrest of two teenagers suspected of burning down their historic country sanctuary comes as a relief.

"I am glad they got caught. They have everything they got coming to them. On the other hand I feel sorry for them because they are young," said Pastor James Miller.

The 118-year-old church burned early last Thursday morning. Wednesday night an investigator of the state fire marshal's office arrested 18-year-old Stephen Moore of Columbus as well as a 17-year-old juvenile.

"The fire marshal received a really useful tip a couple of days ago and that following up on that they've been able to make an arrest," said Jim Oliver, Brown County prosecutor.

Oliver is considering trying the younger teen as an adult in criminal court.

The sparsely populated area of Brown County has more than its share of significant arson fires over the years: six fires in 13 years.

A 2007 fire heavily damaged the Seasons Lodge and conference center. Nashville's Little Opry burned less than a year ago. Flames destroyed the local landmark and major tourist attraction. It is still an active criminal investigation.

"We are still gathering information and evaluating that information, working toward closing that case," said Oliver.

The attention now is on the Grandview Apostolic Church fire. The closely knit 45-member congregation wants something more than criminal justice.

"I would like for them to tell us why and it would be nice for they would say they are sorry," said Shelia Miller, Rev. Miller's wife.

Their home of 20 years destroyed, members are starting over with a new sanctuary and a new name. They are the New Beginnings Church.

Moore was released on a $20,000 bond. The teen remains in custody in a juvenile detention center.

Brown County church fire ruled arson