Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

June 25, 2010

Carter man arrested in church fire

ROSE RIDGE — A Carter County man has been arrested in connection with a fire that leveled a rural church in the western portion of the county early Thursday morning.

Jeremy Perry, 32, of Rose Ridge Road, had a pair of musical instruments that had been stolen from the Rose Ridge Apostolic Church in his residence at the time of his arrest, Kentucky State Police at Ashland said.

Investigators believe Perry intentionally set the blaze to cover up evidence of a break-in, said Trooper Elliott Gollihue, spokesman for the Ashland post.

The fire broke out about 3 a.m. at the church, located off Ky. 59 near the Carter-Lewis County line. Firefighters from the Olive Hill, Grahn and Grayson fire departments battled the blaze. By daybreak, a pile of smoldering rubble was all that remained of the structure.

According to Gollihue, the KSP received a tip from a witness that Perry had items that had been stolen from the church at his residence. Troopers went to Perry’s home, located just down the road from the church, and found a bass guitar and an acoustic guitar that had been in the church prior to the blaze, he said.

Perry was lodged in the Carter County Detention Center on a charge of misdemeanor receiving stolen property. Additional charges are anticipated, Gollihue said.

Investigators are still trying to determine whether any other items were taken from the church, he said. That could prove to be next to impossible due to the degree of damage, he said.

The KSP also hasn’t ruled out the possibility that others might have been involved in the burglary and fire, which was started with an accelerant, Gollihue said.

Seeing the church destroyed, allegedly at the hands of an arsonist, was painful for Darrell Gallihue, who said he had been pastor of the church until about three weeks ago and was still a member there.

“You hate to see anything burned,” he said. “But, when it’s a church, it’s really bad.”

Most of the church building was fairly new, Gallihue said. About three years, the church built a new sanctuary as an addition to the structure and converted the former sanctuary into a fellowship hall, he said.

A number of badly scorched metal chairs could be seen in the ruins of the portion of the building that used to house the fellowship hall.

Even though the church has obviously been dealt a severe hardship, Gallihue said there was no doubt in his mind it would persevere.

“The Lord giveth. He’ll make another way. He always has,” he said. “Right now, we’re just looking for a place to have church on Sunday.”

In fact, he said the church’s current pastor, Kenneth Layne, was out doing just that.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.

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