WEST SALEM, Ohio (WJW)– Investigators with the Medina County Sheriff’s Office say a woman arrested in connection with a break-in and intentionally set fire at Lodi Community Church on the Fourth of July is a suspect in at least three other arson cases.
Deputies arrested 34-year-old Shelli Williams, of West Salem, early Monday morning, hours after she allegedly set a number of fires throughout the church. She was identified after the sheriff’s office posted a surveillance photo of the arsonist inside the church on Facebook.
“It was a great tool to use and a lot of people came forward and gave us good information,” Cpt. Kevin Ross told FOX 8 News.
After authorities took Williams into custody at her home, they noticed that she was still wearing some of the same clothing shown in the church surveillance photos. She was unable to shed any light on the motive for setting fires inside the church.
“She didn’t know why we were there, doesn’t remember anything. She appeared to be under some type of narcotic,” Ross said.
Investigators said they were alarmed to discover that on the same night as the arson at Lodi Community Church, a mobile home just a couple of doors down from Williams’ home was also set on fire. Detectives said she is considered a suspect in that arson case,
She is considered a person of interest in a 2014 fire in Harrisville Township and a fire earlier this year at her sister’s home in Guilford Township. Investigator said in each case, there was disregard for the safety of residents and first responders.
“It’s concerning that she may be involved in four different arson cases, it sounds like the same person, we have to get the evidence to show that and we’re working on that right now,” Ross said.
Meanwhile, the pastor at Lodi Community Church said he and his congregation are prepared to forgive Williams for setting fire to their church.
“We ourselves are broken people so we need that grace as well, so we’re sorrowful for her and we pray that she would get the help that she needs,” said Pastor Micah Dobson.
Authorities now plan to present the evidence in some of the arson cases to a Medina County grand jury.