Two charged with burning New Sarpy church

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 8, 2011



NEW SARPY – Two New Sarpy men accused of burglarizing and setting fire to a New Sarpy church and an adjacent storage building have turned themselves over to authorities, according to the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Mark A. Bailey, 37, of 212 St. Charles St., New Sarpy, turned himself in Tuesday evening, while Jerry Cotton, 57, of 266 St. Charles St., New Sarpy, surrendered to authorities Wednesday afternoon, said Capt. Pat Yoes, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.

Bailey and Cotton were each booked with simple arson and simple burglary of a religious building. Yoes said Bailey was also booked on a fugitive warrant from Kenner. Bailey and Cotton are being held at the Nelson Coleman Correctional Facility in St. Charles Parish.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the men are accused of setting fire to the River of Life Christian Church after breaking into a trailer home adjacent to the church that was being used as storage. The two men live down the street from the church.

Yoes said the men allegedly used a blowtorch to try to remove metal from the trailer when it caught fire around 7:30 p.m. Monday. The church building was uninsured and has been declared a total loss.

During the investigation into the fire, Yoes said detectives determined that several items, including sheet metal, a lawn mower, a sink, and a stove, were stolen from the mobile home, which, according to church officials, is used for storage.

Yoes said deputies interviewed nearby residents, who said they spotted Bailey and Cotton in the area at the time of the fire. Detectives went to the suspects’ homes to question them about the fire and discovered some of the property missing from the church.