Woman Charged in Church Arson

| October 7, 2010

The secretary of a church in Pike County was charged Wednesday with torching the house of worship.

The fire happened four years ago. Because, according to police, surveillance video was damaged in that fire, it wasn't until recently troopers were able to see what was on it.

Now, a woman from Wayne County is charged with setting the church on fire, possibly, police think, to cover up other crimes she may have committed there.

Tiina Alnick, 46, of Honesdale, faces arson, criminal mischief, theft and vandalism charges.

Police said she intentionally set fire to Paupack United Methodist Church near Tafton in June of 2006, causing nearly $14,000 worth of damage.

Troopers also accuse Alnick of stealing $3,600 in cash, checks and postage stamps from the church.

Pennsylvania State Police Lieutenant James Schultz said the arrest is years in the making.

"What happened is we had some DVR video and due to the fire it was damaged extensively. ATF, (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) through advancements in technology, was able to retrieve some of that video, which gave us the evidence we needed for the arrest, hence the arrest some four years later," Lieutenant Schultz explained.

According to police, prior to May of 2005, there were no criminal incidents reported at the church. From May of 2005 to June of 2006, when Tiina Alnick worked as an administrative secretary at the church, there were no fewer than six incidents reported. One was a theft. In another case, a bomb scare required the downstairs day care to be evacuated.

No explosive device was ever found and Alnick has not been charged with that incident.

Court papers indicate church officials were starting to think they had an "internal problem" with someone who worked there.

That someone, according to investigators, is Alnick.

"She'd taken money from the church and whether that was a means of covering it up or not, we don't know, but that could be assumed," Schultz added.

Alnick was arraigned and released. She is due in court again next week.



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