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Charge in church arson cold case

Published December 13, 2010 4:16 pm

Springville • DNA found at torched LDS ward matches state prisoner.
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Four years after a fire destroyed a historic LDS church in Springville, authorities have linked DNA found at the scene to a 24-year-old man who is now charged with arson.

Last week, the Utah County Attorney's Office charged Jake Devin Dowhaniuk, of Springville, with the second-degree felony.

DNA taken from blood found at the church in July 2006 linked Dowhaniuk to the blaze, Springville police Lt. Dave Caron said. A second DNA sample taken recently from Dowhaniuk at the state prison in Gunnison, where he is serving time on burglary and disorderly conduct charges, confirmed the first match.

The church, also referred to as a wardhouse and owned by Yhe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was built in 1913. It was located at 451 S. Main St.

The building had unique architectural style and included a pipe organ, stained-glass windows and a balcony, Caron said. It had been remodeled in 1998 at a cost of 1.5 million.

Dowhaniuk is accused of breaking into the church, vandalizing doors and smashing photographs on the floor.

He then allegedly set a fire underneath a stage in the cultural hall and attempted to set fire to other areas of the building.

The fire caused about $200,000 in damage, leading to the LDS Church demolishing the building.

Caron said it took four years to connect the DNA found at the church to Dowhaniuk because the state lab didn't have a sample of his DNA in its database to compare it to until recently.

Dowhaniuk will make his initial appearance in court on Jan. 6 at 1:30 p.m.

Caron said he feels good about Dowhaniuk's arrest, but thinks others also may have been involved because of the extensive amount of destruction and vandalism in the building. "It wouldn't surprise me that there are more," he said.






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