Arson Fire Damages Lake City Junior Academy Library

Lake City Junior AcademySource: Adventist Review

[June 25, 2007] An early-morning June 19 blaze damaged much of the library at Seventh-day Adventist-owned Lake City Junior Academy in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, approximately 31 miles (50 km) east of Spokane, Washington and 100 miles (160 km) south of the Canadian border. Media reports say one suspect allegedly claimed he was a “Satan worshipper,” while another reportedly said she was a “Wiccan,” or follower of a pagan belief system. No other motive for the fire has been released so far, reports indicate.

There were no injuries in the blaze, which caused an estimated $30,000 in damage, said principal Ron Turner, who administers the school operated by the Coeur d’Alene Seventh-day Adventist Church. There was damage to some library books and other materials, but many may be salvaged, Turner told Adventist Review in a telephone interview.

School had been dismissed for the summer, and Turner said the library is expected to be back in operation by August 10. The church is planning construction of a new school, and Turner suggested the fire may “get some committees” moving toward achieving that goal.

Referring to the relative mildness of the damage and lack of injuries, not to mention a quick recovery time for the property, Turner said the school was fortunate: “We were blessed big time,” he declared.

The 2:00 a.m. fire was reportedly the work of a former student of the school who was apparently upset with the institution. Two other teenagers are believed to be accessories in the crime and were also arrested.

The blaze was apparently started when one of the suspects allegedly poured gasoline through a window in the school library which, according to a news report in the Spokane, Washington, Spokesman-Review newspaper, was allegedly broken by 16-year-old Jacqueline Smith of Athol, Idaho. Smith’s alleged accomplice was Jason Howry, age 20, of Rathdrum, Idaho, who reportedly proclaimed himself a “Satan worshipper” to police. Smith, who supposedly described herself as a practitioner of Wicca, is being charged as an adult in the crime, reports indicate.

[A Spokane, Wash., television station, KHQ-TV, reported June 21 on its Internet Web site that Howry denied being a Satanist. The NBC affiliate, which said it interviewed Howry in jail, reported that the young man admitted to buying the gasoline allegedly used in the blaze, but did not start this fire: “"I never lit a match, I'm no (arsonist)," the station quoted him as saying.]

Media reports said Smith and Howry were being held in the Kootenai County Jail on charges of first-degree arson. The other two suspects, whose names were not released by authorities, are a 19-year-old male and a 17-year-old female.

The school is marking its 98th year of service, Turner said, and had 95 students during the past academic year. It expects to enroll 115 in the fall.