arsonists to plead guilty
Monitor Staff Reports
TYLERNews that church arson suspects intended to plead guilty to setting fires at 13
East Texas churches January and February was greeted with positive responses from law
enforcement and pastors.
Its (confessing) important for them, Russell Memorial United Methodist
Church pastor Billy Watson told the Tyler Morning Telegraph Dec. 9.
Were in prayer for (the suspects) and their families. We cant imagine
what would have caused them to do that, the Will Point minister said.
Jason Bourque, 20, and Danial McAllister, 22, believed to have set fire to eight churches
in Athens, Canton, Lindale and Tyler between Jan. 1 and Feb. 4, were to enter a guilty
Cantons Little Hope Baptist Church was the first, followed by three churches in
Athens Faith Baptist Jan. 1, and Jan. 11, Grace Community Church. Minutes later,
shortly after midnight, the Lake Athens Baptist Church was struck.
Russell Memorial Methodist in Wills Point was torched early Feb. 4.
The search for suspects employed federal, state and local law enforcement throughout East
Texas, with nearly 300 officers and numerous man-hours spent.
Bourque and McAllister were arrested Feb. 21, after six more churches in Tyler and two in
Lindale were torched.
The pair was indicted on arson charges May 25.
Despite the attack on their church, members at Lake Athens Baptist Church have prayed for
the suspects, senior pastor John Green told the Telegraph. Their church leaders, calling
the fire a hurtful act, said the congregation is better for having gone
through the process of rebuilding.
Russell United Methodist finished construction and rededicated their sanctuary the end of
November, and Lake Athens Baptist, with the help of the Texas Baptist Men and Christian
Builders, anticipate construction completion in 2011 without incurring debt.
Athens Fire Chief John McQueary sees the anticipated guilty plea as a closure for the
The fires were devastating and scary at the same time, because it was just so
random, he told the Telegraph. I think the ATF setting up their team in Athens
is what drove the suspects to another area. I am surprised they are going to plead guilty,
but then again, the evidence against them was pretty overwhelming.
In February, ATF Dallas Bureau Chief Robert Champion said investigators were confident
that Bourque and McAllister were responsible for all the fires and confirmed there were
multiple DNA samples taken from several of the church fire scenes.
Lead federal investigator Clay Alexander reflected on the two-month long investigation and
capture of the suspects.
It was a long and hard investigation, with many of us spending nights and weeks from
our families, he told the Telegraph. Now that they are pleading guilty,
its very satisfying knowing justice is being served.
Bourques mother, Kimberly, described her son as someone who still has a lot to offer
the world, as she hoped East Texans would reserve a little more compassion for her son.
McAllisters dad, David, said he was upset by the charges against his son, saying he
didnt think his son would have done anything like that. He pointed to the death of
his wife in October, 2007, as a possible explanation, because mother and son were very
After her death, the elder McAllister said he struggled as a father to keep his son on the
All I can say as a dad is that I wish it didnt happen, he told the
Telegraph in February. After the recent news of his sons intent to confess, he added
that hell do his time.
officer attacked, suspects flee, burglary nixed
CrimeStoppers offers $1,000 reward
By Julie Vaughan,
Monitor Staff Writer
CANTONA Canton police officer is home from the hospital after being assaulted early
Dec. 9 while he was checking on suspicious activity behind a business.
Around 4:25 a.m., Canton Police Chief Michael Echols said officer J.P. Marsh noticed some
lights behind the Tractor Supply Company, located on State Highway 243.
He pulled up to the ramp behind Bealls and walked toward where he saw these
lights, Echols said. That is when he was struck from behind, in the head.
They ambushed my officer, Echols said. He didnt even see it
Echols said his dispatchers keep in contact with officers every three minutes when they
are out on calls.
He must have keyed up at one point, because she (the dispatcher) only heard
breathing, Echols said. Then 10 minutes later, he calls for backup.
Marsh received two marks on the top of his head and Echols said Marsh is believed to have
lost consciousness during that 10 minutes before a Van Zandt County Sheriffs Deputy
arrived on scene to assist.
Marsh was the only Canton officer on duty at the time of the incident.
Echols said the person responsible for striking Marsh is believed to have been standing on
the third step of the back deck area. The object used for the assault was a heavy metal
shelving piece, which was found at the scene.
Echols said the piece has been sent to a crime lab in Garland for DNA processing.
Marsh was sent to Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler and was released at mid-morning
The object was blunt, so there was swelling on the outside of his (Marshs)
head and some bruising, Echols said.
He went on to say that Marsh, who has been with the department since April, 2007, was
ready to be back on shift Thursday night.
He is a dedicated officer, and it always bothers him when there is a burglary on his
shift. He looks out for the businesses, Echols said. That was the main thing
he was concerned about if they got anything.
Echols said after speaking with Tractor Supply Company employees and the contractors who
were doing work behind the building, they determined nothing was missing.
He (Marsh) was pretty happy about that, Echols said. He definitely
interrupted something that was about to happen.
Van Zandt County CrimeStoppers, along with the Canton Police Department, is seeking
information on this assault of a police officer. Anyone with information is encouraged to
contact the police department at (903) 567-4991 or CrimeStoppers at (903) 567-STOP .
Kemp woman inventor to appear on Discovery
Health Channels Homemade Millionaire
Monitor Staff Reports
NEW YORK, NYKemp resident Deedra Scherm will be one of the first three female
contestants to appear on the premiere of HomeMade Millionaire, showing at 9
p.m. Friday, Dec. 17 (tomorrow night), on the Discovery Health Channel.
Each hour-long episode follows the competitivejourney of three women vying for a chance to
sell their inventions on the Home Shopping Network.
Open calls were held throughout the country, and thousands of women showed up with their
unique products in hand, with the hopes of being part of this experience.
Scherm, 38, made the cut with her Klipson Headband.
She, along with other inventors, were put through a series of tasks designed to get their
product ready for consumers.
With the help of a coach and two marketing professionals, the women readied their unique
products with a marketing strategy to present to the Home Shopping Network.
In addition to HSN executives, each judges panel will include a guest celebrity judge and
experts in the fields of home, beauty, food and fashion.
Scherm and her husband Kris, along with their three boys, David, 6, Keifer, 4, and
Charlie, 16 months, are newcomers to the Kemp community, coming from California.
The couple completed their move in June, shortly after adopting their youngest son,
Deedra is the daughter of Dennie and George Lindsey and neice of longtime Becker Community
residents Debbie and Ray Hicks.
A watch party with family and friends is set for the day after the television premiere in