Sketches Released of Suspects in Church Fires

Investigators say three men may be East Texas church arsonists

By Scott Gordon
|  Friday, Feb 12, 2010  |  Updated 4:00 PM CDT
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Church Fire In Wills Point

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Church Fire In Wills Point

A Thursday morning fire destroyed the sanctuary at Russell Memorial United Methodist Church in Wills Point.
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Federal agents on Friday released sketches of three suspects in a string of East Texas church fires.

"They're people we want to identify and locate and see what they know," said special agent Tom Crowley of the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "They've been seen around the scenes of some of the fires."

Ten churches, mostly in the Tyler area, have burned since January 1. Nine have been ruled arson and the tenth is still under investigation, Crowley said.

For the first time, the release of the three sketches raised suspicions that more than one arsonist may be involved and that the fires are the work of a group of arsonists.

"That's always a possibility you have to look into," Crowley said.

One of the sketches depicts a man with short hair and a possible tattoo of flames on his left back or neck. Another sketch shows a man with frizzy hair, an earring in his left ear, and a tattoo of a cross on his left forearm.

ATF is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible.  A tip line has been set up at 1-888-283-3473.

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