Lodi Community Church fire

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WEST SALEM, Ohio (WJW) – Medina County Sheriff’s Office investigators say a woman arrested in connection with a break-in and intentionally set fire to the Lodi Community Church on July 4 is a suspect in at least three other cases of arson.

Deputies arrested Shelli Williams, 34, of West Salem, early Monday morning, hours after she allegedly started 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 some great information,” said the cap. Kevin Ross told FOX 8 News.

After authorities arrested Williams at her home, they noticed that she was still wearing some of the same clothes shown in church surveillance photos. She was unable to shed light on the motive for the fires inside the church.

“She didn’t know why we were there, doesn’t remember anything. She appeared to be on some type of narcotic,” Ross said.

Investigators said they were alarmed to find that on the same night as the Lodi Community Church arson, a mobile home a few doors down from Williams’ home was also set on fire. Detectives said she was considered a suspect in the 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. The investigator said in each case there was a disregard for the safety of residents and first responders.

“It’s concerning that she may be involved in four different arson cases, it looks like the same person, we need to get evidence to show that and we’re working on it right now,” Ross said.

Meanwhile, the Lodi Community Church pastor said he and his congregation are ready to forgive Williams for setting their church on fire.

“We are broken people ourselves, so we need this grace as well, so we are sad for her and pray that she gets the help she needs,” Pastor Micah Dobson said.

Authorities now plan to present the evidence in some of the arson cases to a Medina County grand jury.

Norma P. Rex