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Stories Added - May 2010
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Crime Stoppers tip leads to 2 arrests for ‘09 church arson
Polk County Enterprise
LIVINGSTON — Ten months after the church at Corraville cemetery was burned to the ground, two suspects have been arrested and charged with a first-degree felony, Det. Richard Delaney of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday. Sunny Joseph Adams, 18, and Herman Howard Kinder V, 18, have been charged with arson with intent to damage a place of worship. The June 26, 2009, fire was reported by a citizen who lived in the area who saw the flames through the woods, according to Delaney. By the time the Scenic Loop Volunteer Fire Department arrived, the more than 100-year-old wood frame structure had already burned to the ground. In recent years, the church was primarily used for homecomings and funeral services at the cemetery. Polk County Fire Marshal Jay Barbee investigated the cause and origin of the fire and determined it was started with an incendiary device. He then classified the fire as arson. Polk County Crime Stoppers received an anonymous tip on March 1 identifying two suspects who started the fire. The information given said that the two suspects charges that were filed on three juveniles and one adult in connection with a criminal mischief that involved spray-painted graffiti at the church in February 2008. The informant advised that one of the suspects who started the fire was one of the juveniles originally charged with Class C misdemeanor criminal mischief in 2008. The other suspect identified as starting the fire was involved in the 2008 case, but was investigators never linked him to the case and he was never charged. Barbee and Delaney followed up on the information and were able to determine that the information given in the Crime Stoppers tip was correct. Arrest warrants were issued by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Darrell Longino on the charge of arson with intent to destroy a place of worship. On April 27, Delaney and Barbee arrested Sunny Joseph Adams, 18, at his residence in Polk County. On April 29, Delaney arrested Herman Howard Kinder V, 18 at Shepherd High School. Delaney said the two suspects burned the church down in retaliation for the earlier criminal mischief charges against their friends. The suspects charged in that incident paid fines, restitution and were required to perform community service. Kinder was determined to be involved in the 2008 incident, but never charged. The fire was started shortly after Kinder and Adams had both reached their 17th birthdays so they are charged as adults. Although the church and nearby cemetery are used and had been maintained by African Americans, investigators could find no evidence that race was a motivating factor in the crime. Langley added that there is no connection with the recent vandalism of the Corraville cemetery which caused more than $50,000 in damage to tombstones. Suspects in that case are still awaiting disposition of criminal charges against them. Those suspects told investigators they were not aware of the ethnicity of those buried at the cemetery.