0

Pastor charged in arson
Father, son accused of burning down church

WINDER - Investigators believe the torching of Winder's New Life Deliverance Church three years ago was a family affair.

Police this week arrested Quincy Arnold, 49, of Lawrenceville, for setting the December 2005 blaze in the church he formerly pastored.

The arrest comes two weeks after Arnold's son, Maurice Arnold, 24, of Dacula, was charged in connection with the same blaze.

Quincy Arnold posted $50,000 bond Wednesday and was released from the Barrow County Jail. He could not be reached for comment. His son posted $30,000 bond and was released Jan. 30.

Both men are charged with arson, conspiracy to commit arson and vandalism to a place of worship. The elder Arnold faces an additional charge of insurance fraud.

The incident, which drew scorn from Georgia's top fire officials when it happened, has been jointly investigated by the Barrow County Sheriff's Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

At the time, officials said an arsonist somehow entered the Apostolic church in the predawn hours of Dec. 7, poured gasoline down the center aisle of the church's sanctuary, lit it and fled.

It remains unclear what evidence police believe links the Arnolds to the crime.

"We're trying to preserve (that) evidence for prosecution," said Maj. Todd Druse, Barrow County Sheriff's Office spokesman. "All I can tell you is that the investigation is still open and continuing."

Officials have interviewed multiple witnesses in the intervening years, gathered evidence beyond what was at the scene and even conducted surveillance operations, an investigator said.

Druse wouldn't rule out the possibility of more arrests.

The fire, reported by a neighbor at 3:50 a.m., destroyed the Pierce Road church's sanctuary but caused little exterior damage. Officials found no evidence of forced entry or any other crimes.

The church building has switched hands since the fire. It's now occupied by The Church at Pierce Road, a Christian group which moved in last October, its pastor, Terry Hawkins, said.

Hawkins said the church was repaired by Quincy Arnold and its former owners. New Life has since merged with another congregation in Lawrenceville, Hawkins said.

In the wake of the blaze, the state's fire commissioner's office issued a standard $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. That reward still stands.