Local Arrested for Setting Fire to LDS Church

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    By Deborah Skousen

    A Provo man was arrested Wednesday, March 1, 2006, for allegedly setting fire to a LDS meeting house.

    At about 7 a.m. Monday, Feb. 27, 2006, 55-year-old Gene Perkins allegedly broke a glass door and dropped a burning cloth inside the foyer of the Bonneville church house, located at 50 S. 900 East, said Lt. Jerry Harper of the Provo Police Department.

    An eyewitness said he saw Perkins in the act and promptly called Provo Dispatch, Harper said.

    The Provo Police Department, along with Provo Fire and Rescue, arrived at the scene shortly after 7 a.m., just after the call was made.

    Police estimated the damages to be somewhere around $8,000-$9,000. Although Perkins has not been charged, he was booked into Utah County Jail Wednesday afternoon.

    “At this point, we do not have a motive,” Harper said. “It must be further discussed with the detective.”

    Perkins is a member of the Bonneville Second Ward. Several of his fellow ward members were surprised when Perkins was arrested.

    “Although I do not know him well, he always seemed like a really nice guy,” said Cassie Balser of the Bonneville Second Ward.

    The church house was closed for only a few hours and reopened Wednesday evening, according to Gaylun Smith, president of the Provo Utah Bonneville Stake.

    As of now, the Boneville Stake is not planning to institute additional security precautions for the future, Smith said.

    “There isn”t much we can do,” Smith said. “Once I find out the reason Gene Perkins did this, then maybe we can determine if there is something we can do.”

    (For comments, e-mail Christa Hunter at )

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