Facebook post led to arson arrest in Middletown church fire

Facebook post led to arson arrest in Middletown church fire

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The fire at Tytus Avenue First Church of God has been ruled an arson. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

A Facebook post led to the arrest of a Middletown teen who allegedly set a fire the caused $450,000 in damages to a church.

Middletown dispatchers received a call about 12:20 p.m. from a woman who said she had received a Facebook post from a teen indicating “he has been off his meds, broke into the church, stole money and set the church on fire,” according to documents obtained by this news outlet.

Fire broke out during the early morning hours of Jan. 22 at Tytus Avenue First Church of God, 3300 Tytus Ave., and fire investigators quickly suspected arson.

In the Facebook post, the teen described himself as a “serial arsonist” and said he had set fire to two vehicles and two additional structures.

Police were provided with a screen shot of the Facebook post.

Detectives searched the 16-year-old’s residence, looking for fire-starting equipment and $1,000 the teen said he took from the church, but nothing was seized, according to search warrants.

Middletown detectives also received a search warrant to seize the teen’s cell phone and its data.

The teen is charged with arson, breaking and entering and theft.

A second Middletown teen was also charged in connection with the church fire.

That boy is charged with failure to report a crime and receiving stolen property, according to police Lt. Jim Cunningham.

He said the boy was not at Tytus Avenue First Church of God when the fire was set.

Police said the boy was in possession of a computer that allegedly was stolen from the church.

Both teens, who has been in criminal trouble before, will appear in Butler County Juvenile Court next week.

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