ORLEANS — Police are saying that the man accused of vandalizing a church in Orleans has denied deliberately setting a small fire inside the building, and that fire investigators are still unable to determine if the fire was set deliberately or not.
On December 14, Justin Roy, 20, of Orleans, was arrested after police responded to a report of a fire at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church on East Street. During the vandalism a tablecloth had been set on fire, causing damage to a wood panel. The fire was quickly extinguished.
Today, fire investigators opened an investigation trying to determine if the fire was set, or possibly accidental. Police say Roy, after being arrested for burglary and vandalism, denied deliberately setting the fire.
Investigators say the suspect had previously wrapped a knife with a cloth, lit it on fire and used it as a light source while inside the church. They say he used the torch until some candles were located as a source of light.
The tablecloth that burned the wall was ignited from the bottom, and burned upward towards the top of the table. Investigators say no evidence of an ignition source was located at or near the fire.
Detective Sergeant Larry Smith says he believes the ignition source was probably from a lighter or candle, but that no remnants of the candle was found in the area to indicate an accidental ignition.
The source of the fire is still undetermined.
On Tuesday, Roy pled not guilty to charges of burglary, unlawful mischief, and unlawful trespass.