Portsia Smith covers Louisa County crime and news.
Louisa woman to serve 3.5 years in jail for burning church
A Louisa County woman will spend more than three years in prison for setting fire to the church of a firefighter who did not return romantic feelings for her.
Felicia Lynne Armstrong, 51, of Mineral, pleaded guilty in Louisa Circuit Court in May to the arson and burglary of St. John Baptist Church.
She was sentencedtoday to ten years in prison with all but three and a half years suspended and required to pay $32,316 in restitution. She had faced 30 years in prison.
“We are pleased with Armstrong’s sentence based on her reckless actions to a place of worship,” said Louisa Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Garrett.
According to Garrett, Armstrong was trying to develop a romantic relationship with a firefighter while her husband was incarcerated.
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, where the firefighter attended.
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 arson resulted in about $22,000 in damages, Garrett said.
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.
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, were convicted of one count of mail fraud in federal court. Two other counts were dropped in a plea agreement.
They pleaded guilty to fraudulently applying for credit cards using fake Social Security numbers and setting up fake addresses in various counties, including Spotsylvania, Stafford and Louisa.