Suspect Arrested After Fire At Cape Girardeau Church

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — A Cape Girardeau man was charged Monday with a hate crime after a fire destroyed a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints church in the city, officials said.

Christopher Pritchard, 45, was also charged with second-degree arson, burglary and felony stealing, Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Welker said.

The fire broke out Sunday night and quickly engulfed the church. No one was inside and no one was injured. The church is considered a total loss, The Southeast Missourian reported.

The Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Office had received a request for an extra patrol on Friday because church officials were having problems with Pritchard, who allegedly had threatened to assault a church bishop and “burn the church down," according to a probable cause statement.

During an interview, Pritchard allegedly admitting making threats toward the bishop and church but denied setting the fire, according to the statement.

Officers found more than $1,000 in items in Pritchard's backpack that belonged to the church, including a laptop, hand tools and 21 apples, officials said.

Pritchard is currently being held at the Cape Girardeau County Jail on a no-bond warrant.