Two charged in Valley City church arsonVALLEY CITY, N.D. – Two people previously arrested in connection with a church burglary here in September are now charged with arson in a church fire that caused about $2.5 million in damages.
By: Emily Welker, Forum News Service, INFORUM, Forum News Service
VALLEY CITY, N.D. – Two people previously arrested in connection with a church burglary here in September are now charged with arson in a church fire that caused about $2.5 million in damages.
Andrew Michael Miklas, 25, of Valley City, was charged Monday in Barnes County District Court with one count of B felony arson, one count of endangering by fire or explosion, and two counts of burglary, all of which are C felonies, plus one be misdemeanor charge of theft.
Nicole Ellen Lindermann, 18, of Kathryn, was also charged Monday in Barnes County court with criminal conspiracy to commit arson and burglary, B and C felonies, respectively, and B misdemeanor conspiracy to commit theft.
Court documents filed with the charges say Lindermann told Special Agent Derek Hill of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that she and Miklas had been involved in an earlier string of burglaries on area churches, which occurred in late September.
On Oct. 21, Miklas wanted to get more money from the churches, Lindermann said. She told the agent she did not want to be involved, but went with Miklas anyway.
She and Miklas went to Faith Lutheran Church, where he used a screwdriver to pry open the door.
Having stolen three bottles of wine and $20, Miklas tried to start a fire with paint thinner, but it wouldn’t burn.
He found a can of gas in the bed of a pickup a few blocks away, she said, and went back to burn the church, saying he wanted to cover up the thefts.
Miklas was wearing a court-ordered ankle bracelet at the time, she said.
Miklas had been previously accused of burglarizing the Faith Lutheran Church with Lindermann.
Multiple other churches were burglarized the weekend of Sept. 28 and 29, including Trinity Lutheran, Our Savior’s Lutheran and the Congregational United Church of Christ.
Court documents say a neighbor found the gas can in the neighbor’s backyard Nov. 5.
One estimate put the damage to the church at around $2.5 million.