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Woman set fire to 2 Utah churches, causing $600K in damages, police say

By Pat Reavy, KSL | Updated - Mar 29th, 2019 @ 12:39pm | Posted - Mar 29th, 2019 @ 11:33am


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OREM — A Lindon woman was arrested Friday after police say she set fire to two Orem meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, causing an estimated $600,000 in damage.

Jillian Robinson, 18, was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of arson, criminal mischief, burglary and possession of burglary tools.

About 1:50 a.m., a fire was reported at a meetinghouse at 1230 N. 950 West.

"When our officers arrived, they saw smoke coming from inside and a door that was broken. They went inside and saw several fires had been set throughout the church," Orem police posted on Facebook. "They were able to put the fires out with a fire extinguisher that one of the officers had in his patrol car. Once inside, you didn't have to be a detective or arson investigator to tell that these fires had been intentionally set by someone."

The arresting officer also noted in a police affidavit: "Upon arrival I observed there were multiple small fires inside the chapel. … The glass door to the chapel was broken on the southwest side."

Police also found graffiti inside the church and "Satan Lives" written in sharpie, the affidavit states.

As officers searched the area and checked other churches, they spotted a woman at another meetinghouse less than a mile away at 828 W. 1600 North. That building also had the same statement written on a doorjamb, according to the report, and there was a strong odor of gasoline in the entryway.

The woman had a backpack that also "smelled like gas," a lighter and a power drill, according to the Facebook post.

"Robinson had in her possession a bottle which smelled of gas and a lighter and matches. It was then later reported that Robinson also had a black lighter and matches," the affidavit states.

Officers had Robinson voluntarily fill out a statement, in which she wrote: "I acted alone in the fire that was started at the church on 1200 (North). I was angry and all I wanted to do was set a small fire and it got out of control. I fled the scene and didn't look back. I felt like playing with fire because of my crazy life at home, this was not a hate crime," according to the affidavit.

Robinson was charged Tuesday in Lindon Justice Court with drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, both class B misdemeanors, and possession of tobacco by a minor, a class C misdemeanor.

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