A Lindon woman caused at least $600,000 in damage early Friday morning after she reportedly set fire to two church buildings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jillian Nicole Robinson, 18, was arrested on suspicion of arson, a second-degree felony, and burglary, a third-degree felony. She is also under investigation for criminal mischief and possession of burglary tools, both class B misdemeanors.
Around 1:50 a.m., officers with the Orem Police Department responded to reports of a fire inside a church building at 1230 N. 950 West, according to a police report.
“They went inside and saw several fires had been set throughout the church,” the department 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.”
Two glass doors were broken on the north and southwest side of the building, and the electronic door control panel was also cut and missing from the door.
There was also the statement “Satan Lives” written in dark permanent marker on the door jam, according to the police report.
“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 Facebook post stated.
While investigating the fire, other officers performed extra patrols around nearby church buildings since the incident was believed to be arson.
During the extra patrol, an officer noticed a suspicious female individual near a church building at 828 W. 1600 North. Other officers arrived and set up a perimeter around the building while attempting to contact the individual.
Investigators noticed writing on the north side door jam with two statements of “Satan Lives.” A door on the west side of the building was missing the electronic door control panel.
Officers could also “smell the strong odor of gasoline surrounding the area of the north side of the church, especially around the door with the writing on it and the windows adjacent to that door,” the report stated.
A few minutes later, officers contacted Robinson further down the street from the church.
“Robinson had in her possession a bottle which smelled of gas and a lighter and matches,” police reported. “It was then later reported that Robinson also had a black sharpie brand marker, screwdriver, and a drill with drill bits.”
Officers also located a white Buick in the parking lot of the church, and Robinson reportedly said she used the vehicle to travel between the two buildings since they were almost a mile apart.
Robinson reportedly denied any involvement in the arson but later wrote a witness statement saying she acted alone.
“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,” she reportedly wrote on the statement. “I felt like playing with fire because of my crazy life at home, this was not a hate crime.”
The total amount of damage caused at the two church buildings is estimated at $600,000, the department reported on Facebook.
Robinson is being held at the Utah County Jail on a $20,000 bond.