NC woman arrested for setting fire to church, food bank

A North Carolina woman was arrested and charged earlier this week for allegedly setting fire to a church and local food pantry during a barbeque festival last month.

Aimee Lakey, 42, is being held on $25,000 bond after being arrested Sunday in connection with the Oct. 28 fire at the church building owned by Jesus Comes First (JCF) Ministries in Lexington, according to a statement from the Lexington Police Department.

Officials noted that the fire occurred during the Lexington Barbeque Festival in Lexington, which is a town of approximately 20,000 people about an hour north of Charlotte.

The arrest comes weeks after local law enforcement deemed the two-alarm fire at the church to be “suspicious in nature,” according to local WXII 12. The fire caused a massive column of smoke and tore through the rear porch area of the church, causing damage to the portion of the building that contained large amounts of perishable food items for the needy.

There were no victims, but the incident caused extensive smoke and water damage to the structure, rendering it uninhabitable. The Lexington Fire Department was able to extinguish the blaze and helped church staff to salvage what food items they could.

Chrissy Little — the daughter of JCF Ministries Pastor Eric Murph — explained on a GoFundMe page that not only did the fire “disrupt our food pantry, but it also is causing us not to be able to have our church services and our music ministry program.”

“Any donations or help is greatly appreciated, as we will need new freezers, new flooring, electricity fixed, food shelves, a ramp, our porch, and much more,” Little wrote on the GoFundMe, which has raised $875 of its $15,000 goal as of Wednesday.

Little told local CBS affiliate WFMY that before the fire, the pantry had served about 900 families monthly. Local woman Opal Cogar told the outlet that she has found the food bank to be “a blessing” amid rising grocery costs and her husband’s costly medical bills.

“It’s nice to know that they have someone, but it’s sad at the same time that someone would deliberately do that knowing that this is a church,” Little said about the arrest of Lakey, whom she does not know. “It’s saddening that someone would do that.”

Pastor Eric Murph told WXII 12 that he was out of town when he got the call that the church he has pastored since 1992 was on fire.

“That’s one reason it’s so vitally important we get back up and get operational again. Our biggest thing is what comes in goes out. We’re a very small ministry, but we all work really hard,” he said, adding that they are now asking for help after having provided help to others for so many years.

“There’s a lot of need here, and whenever the Lord laid it on our hearts to do this, we tried to be faithful with it, and He supplied. And we’re looking for Him to take care of us here, too,” he said.

Lakey’s arrest came following an investigation into the blaze by the Davidson County Fire Marshal’s Office, the Office of the State Fire Marshal, as well as the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to [email protected]

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