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Louisa woman guilty in church burning

BY PORTSIA SMITH

After a  Louisa County woman’s heart was burned by a local firefighter, she set the man’s church ablaze.

Felicia Lynne Armstrong, 51, of Mineral, pleaded guilty in Louisa Circuit Court Monday to the arson and burglary of St. John Baptist Church. She faces 30 years in prison.

According to Louisa Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Garrett, Armstrong was trying to develop a romantic  relationship with the firefighter while her husband was incarcerated.

“When her interests were not returned, she set fire to the firefighter’s church that resulted in over $22,000 in damage,” Garrett said.

Louisa Detective Scott Renalds  said deputies responded to a fire call at 10:43 a.m. Jan. 19 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.

The detective 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 cinder-block walls and tile floors prevented the fires from spreading or causing significant structural damage, he 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.

After developing a lead in those smaller fires, investigators found evidence linking that  suspect to the church fire, he said.

In that case, Armstrong was 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.

She was also charged with another count of felony arson in the burning of a neighbor’s shed on Jan. 15, and two counts of misdemeanor arson in the burning of a neighbor’s fence on Jan. 9 and another neighbor’s pile of firewood, which also damaged a nearby shelter, Renalds said. But those charges were later dropped.

“I cannot conceive why someone would burn any building much less a place of worship,” Garrett said after the conviction. “Her efforts to obtain attention of her love interest were misguided, criminal and absolutely wrong.”

Armstrong is scheduled to be formally sentenced on July 18 at 9 a.m.

Before her arrest,  Armstrong was employed as a bus driver for the Spotsylvania County school division. She worked for Spotsylvania schools from Dec. 16, 2008,  until her resignation, which was effective Feb. 9, 2011.

According to a federal affidavit, Armstrong and her husband, Curtis John Roy, are both facing three charges of mail fraud in federal court.

The are accused of fraudulently applying for credit cards using fake Social Security numbers and setting up fake addresses in various counties, including Spotsylvania, Stafford and Louisa.

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