Monday, April 23, 2007

Teen Charged In Church And Store Break-In's; Fire Still Suspicious

A Smithfield teenager has been charged with breaking into Whitley Memorial United Methodist Church early Sunday morning minutes before it burned. However, 17-year-old Alvin Lee Parrish, who lives only yards away from the church, has not been charged with setting it on fire. Smithfield Police are looking for at least two others for questioning. As a standard procedure with any church fire, federal ATF agents are expected to examine the scene Monday afternoon. Dozens of firefighters battled the fire for 45 minutes at Whitley Memorial before bringing it under control. Hot spots still smoldered for hours afterwards. Fire Chief Patrick Harris said the blaze began in the vicinity of the office area, but officials are not saying just yet the blaze was intentionally set. Police have charged Alvin Lee Parrish, 17, of 307 Wilson ’s Mills Road , Smithfield with breaking into Dunn’s Convenient Store between 6:15am and 7:00am Sunday stealing three 24-packs of beer. Parrish is also charged with breaking into the church, sometime before the fire was reported at 8:49am. Parrish is being held under a $100,000 bond. Members of Whitley Memorial have been offered the use of a large fellowship hall at First Baptist Church to meet. Officials will determine this week if the burned out church can be rebuilt or if it will have to be torn down completely.


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