Guilty Plea in Meigs County Church Arson

| November 7, 2010

UPDATE 11/04/10 @ 10:25 a.m.
POMEROY, Ohio (WSAZ) — One of the four people charged in connection with an arson that destroyed a church has pleaded guilty to his involvement in the fire.

Christopher Divers, 19, of New Haven, W.Va. pleaded guilty to a seven count indictment on Wednesday in Meigs County Common Plea Court. The pleas include breaking and entering, arson, vandalism, desecration and tampering with evidence.

Prosecutors tell WSAZ.com, Divers faces up to 13 ½ years in prison when he is sentenced in January.

The fire destroyed the Hemlock Grove Church of Christ back in August.

The other defendants, Joseph Satterfield, 18, of Racine, Ohio, Jeffery Mullins, 18 of Rutland, Ohio, and Erin Hawkins, 23, of Pomeroy, are scheduled to stand trial next month.

UPDATE 8/24/10 @ 2:35 p.m.
POMEROY, Ohio (WSAZ) – A grand jury has indicted the four young people charged in connection with a fire that destroyed a church in Meigs County.

The fire earlier this month, destroyed the Hemlock Grove Church of Christ.

Joseph Satterfield, 18, Jeffery Mullins, 18, Erin Hawkins, 23, and Christopher Divers, 19, were arrested several hours after the fire was reported.

Each now face seven counts in connection with the fire that destroyed the 150 year old church.

The counts include breaking and entering, arson, vandalism, desecration and tampering with evidence.

The four are all scheduled to go to trial November 9.

UPDATE 8/12/10 @ 12:45 p.m.
MEIGS COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) — The four people who have been charged in connection with a fire that destroyed a church in Meigs County were in court on Wednesday.

Joseph Satterfield, 18, Jeffery Mullins, 18, Erin Hawkins, 23, and Christopher Divers, 19, were all appointed separate lawyers to represent them in court.

Each had their bond set at $250,000.

They are scheduled to be back in court Friday, August 20 for a pre-trial hearing.

UPDATE 8/11/10 @ 3:30 p.m.
MEIGS COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) — Four people are now under arrest in connection with a fire that destroyed a church in Meigs County on Tuesday.

Meigs County Sheriff Robert Beegle tells WSAZ.com the four are Joseph Satterfield, 18, of Racine, Ohio, Jeffery Mullins, 18 of Rutland, Ohio, Erin Hawkins, 23, of Pomeroy, Ohio, and Christopher Divers, 19, of New Haven, W.Va.

Sheriff Beegle says Divers, Mullins and Satterfield are charged with breaking and entering, arson and desecration. Hawkins is charged with breaking and entering, complicity to arson and desecration.

Beegle says the four were arrested at Hawkins’ residence with the assistance of several area residents.

He says one resident spotted a car leaving from the church at a high rate of speed shortly after the fire started. The resident also got the car’s license plate information. The Sheriff say another resident then spotted the car at a house in Pomeroy. Beegle says officers went to the house and took the four in for questioning.

The Sheriff says all four people gave statement to investigators. They are now being held in various Meigs County jails.

They are expected to be in court on Thursday.

The Sheriff says the State Fire Marshal, FBI and ATF were all part of the joint investigation.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.

UPDATE 8/10/10 @ 8 p.m.
MEIGS COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) — As state fire marshals sifted Tuesday through what remains of the Hemlock Grove Christian Church, congregants combed through memories of their church — built in 1864.

"My great-grandfather donated the land, and the lumber was cut off his land," church Deacon Jack Welker said. "The bell is salvageable and some of the timbers. We may be able to make a platform to put the bell."

Several suspects are being questioned about the alleged arson and desecration seen in a photo as the church burned.

"There were a lot of weddings here," church organist Paula Welker said. "We average 25 people on Sunday, but it's been open all these years since 1864. The sadness is the Bible from the 1800s was burned up in the church and the communion the organ and the piano.A church isn't a building … it's the people in that building."

And now those people are hurt and angry, but determined to rebuild and punish those responsible.

"Everybody was sad," Jack Welker said. "There was some tears shed as they watched the firemen work. By the time everyone had left, it was upbeat and positive. We will rebuild."

As it turns out, the church was insured. Church elders say they'll hold services across the street at the Hemlock Grove Grange until they rebuild.

ORIGINAL STORY 8/10/10 @ 8:30 a.m.
MEIGS COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) — An early morning fire destroyed a church in Meigs County, Ohio.

Firefighters were called to the Hemlock Grove Christian Church shortly after 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. The church is located along Township Road 162.

Our crew on the scene found graffiti written on parts of the building that remains standing.

There's no word yet on how the fire started. Investigators with the Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office were called to the scene.

The church was built in 1864 and currently has 30 members.

Investigators with the Meigs County Sheriff's Office are questioning a number of people about the fire. There have been no arrests yet.

The Sheriff is expecting to release more information Tuesday
afternoon.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.

 

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