Feb 6, 2016

3 indicted in Hancock County 'fire cult' arsons

Sun Herald.com
February 5, 2016

The charred remains of a house are visible on Third Street in Clermont Harbor. Investigators say suspects in a Hancock County 'fire cult' burned the house down on Sept. 14, 2014.  Read more here: http://www.sunherald.com/news/local/crime/article58783718.html#storylink=cpy

BAY ST. LOUIS -- Three of the six former firefighters named in a so-called Hancock County "fire cult" were indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on arson charges after a string of suspicious fires in 2014 and early 2015.

Those indicted -- Crystal Lynn Mooneyhan, 28, of Bay St. Louis; Michael Spencer Smith, 26; of Bay St. Louis; and Marie Gill, 28, of Gulfport, -- were members of the Clermont Harbor Volunteer Fire Department when the fires occurred.

Mooneyhan and Smith each face one count of arson of woods/marsh. Gill faces first-degree arson and evidence tampering, and five counts of arson of woods/marsh.

Six firefighters were arrested about a year ago in six fires that occurred from September 2014 through January 2015. At the time of the arrests, Hancock County sheriff's investigator A.J. Gambino said the firefighters were part of "some sort of fire club or fire cult."

According to the indictments, five of the fires burned rural woods and marshland around the Lakeshore, Clermont Harbor and Logtown communities. A sixth fire, in which Gill is accused, burned an abandoned house on Third Street, just west of Buccaneer State Park.

The other three firefighters arrested -- Korri-Don Jones and Leslie Cheramie with the West Hancock Volunteer Fire Department, and Orenthial "O.J." Smith with the Clermont Harbor department -- were not indicted, Circuit Court records show.

In a previous interview, Hancock County fire investigator Brian Adam said the firefighters were setting fires, then responding when their departments were called to extinguish them.

Adam said he was unaware of the indictments handed down this week when contacted Friday.

Read more here: http://www.sunherald.com/news/local/crime/article58783718.html#storylink=cpy

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