Portsia Smith covers Louisa County crime and news.
Woman charged in church burning
A 51-year-old Louisa County woman is facing felony arson charges in connection to a string of fires in the county, including a church.
According to Detective Scott Renalds of the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a 10:43 a.m. call on Jan. 19 about a suspicious fire at St. John Baptist Church in Mineral.
A church member was checking on the property and noticed minor damage from three fires on the property, Renalds said.
He said a rear basement door had been burned from its frame and there was damage from two small fires inside the basement fellowship hall. The cinderblock walls and tile floors are what prevented any of the fires from spreading or causing significant structural damage, Renalds said.
A suspicious fire had been reported in the community the previous weekend. While investigating, deputies were notified of two other recent, small neighborhood fires, Renalds said.
A suspect in the smaller fires was named and evidence linked that same suspect to the church fire.
Felicia Armstrong of Mineral is charged with one count of felony arson for starting three fires at the church and breaking and entering to start two of the fires inside the building, Renalds said.
She is also charged with another count of felony arson for burning a neighbor’s shed on Jan. 15, two counts of misdemeanor arson for burning a neighbor’s fence Jan. 9 and another neighbor’s pile of firewood, which also damaged a nearby shelter earlier this month, Renalds said.
Armstrong is being held at Central Virginia Regional Jail under a $10,000 bond.
A bloodhound trail and an accelerant canine were used to help collect evidence, he said.
She was scheduled to appear in Louisa County General District Court today.