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Teen arrested in suspected Woodlawn church arson

By Robin Y. Richardson ryrichardson@news-journal.com
March 20, 2012 at 11 p.m.


MARSHALL - Authorities have arrested a 17-year-old in connection with the arson of a Woodlawn church.

According to a statement from the Harrison County Sheriff's Office, Dylan Morgan, 17, was charged with the Feb. 22 arson of the Woodlawn Baptist Church building that housed the fellowship hall, nursery and most Sunday school rooms.

Billy Westmoreland, a volunteer firefighter with Woodlawn Fire Department and a deacon and Sunday school teacher at the church, said the congregation was "shocked" to learn that the fire was arson-related.

"We had no idea it was arson," he said. "Two different adjusters and investigators looked at the building and said it was accidental."

Westmoreland said they were initially told it may have been caused by the hot water heater or wiring.

Westmoreland said the church continues to resume its Sunday school services and all other activities in the main building.

"It's a little crowded, but we're making it," he said.

Morgan lives in the Chaparral Ranch subdivision west of U.S. 59 on FM 1997.

The subdivision has been the target of several suspicious fires since November, officials said.

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