Earlier this month we reported on a tragic fire that consumed the South Bloomingville Christian Church, a gay-affirmative house of worship, on August 17. Now the culprit, Donald Lee Williams, has come forward and confessed, according to the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators said that Williams, 36, started the blaze by throwing a rock through a church window and setting a curtain on fire with his lighter.
“Our suspect, Mr. Williams, admitted to the arson,” said Hocking County Sheriff Lanny North. “He did not implicate anyone else other than himself.”
Bishop Scott Davis had said he believed the fire was a bias crime because the church welcomes LGBT parishioners, but Hocking County Sheriff Lanny North said Williams claimed he started the fire as payback for being assaulted by someone connected with the church last summer: “I believe it brings some closure to the area that wasn’t, per se, a hate crime, as the bishop portrayed it to be,” said North. “It was more a revenge crime for what the suspect had endured in 2011.”
We hope Sheriff North has more of a basis to make that determination than just the word of Williams, who obviously wouldn’t want to be additionally penalized with any hate-crime mandates when it’s time for his sentencing.