Church fire investigation continues, tips pouring in

| January 26, 2010

TYLER, TX (KLTV) – Congregations are now back in control of six burned out East Texas churches. However, investigators are continuing their round the clock effort to find whoever started them. Evidence from the fires is now going across the country to solve these crimes.

"We worked through the weekend and we continue to work now," said Tom Crowley, an ATF special agent. "It's at the point of the investigation where it gets tedious."

It is tedious but thorough. All evidence collected at the scenes of the crimes has been shipped to San Francisco where agents will begin to process it.

"We are anxious to get it back, but we know the process," said Jim Seaton, the Smith County Fire Marshal. "It is something that doesn't happen overnight."

It may take weeks to get an answer. Back home, more than a dozen agencies work hand in hand, sharing all collected clues.

"You'll have somebody that's in charge of photography, somebody that's in charge of forensic evidence, [and] somebody that's in charge of interviews," said Seaton.

Under the leadership of ATF, investigators sift through community tips and leads.

"If we get a tip into the leads desk, that tip is generated and it's passed on to investigators who will go out and do the interview and follow up on the tip," explained Crowley.

"When you start out with one lead you may end up with four," said Seaton. "It's going to be a long process. It's going to be the same as if you have a serial murderer somewhere."

Many questions still not answered include: Is it one or more than one responsible? Are the fires linked?

Investigators will meet each night in an effort to answer these questions and expose their suspect.

Investigators are asking for your help. If you have any tips or leads, a hotline has been set up.

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Category: Church Security

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