Vehicle arson in Middleton leaves LDS missionaries puzzled

Car fire at 1000 N block of 2050 E, St. George, UT March 13, 2012 | Photo by Whitlee Roundy, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Two missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were awoken abruptly at 12:30 this morning when their hostess, Madge Carpenter, knocked on their door crying, “Elders, elders – you need to get up, … your car’s on fire.”

Matthew Robinson and his fellow missionary are staying with the Carpenters at their home in the Middleton neighborhood.

Robinson said they went running downstairs and out the door where they saw police cars and firemen, fire hoses and the car being sprayed down.

Emergency responders to car fire at 1000 N block of 2050 E, St. George, UT March 13, 2012 | Photo by Whitlee Roundy, St. George News

The car, owned by the LDS Church for missionary use, was parked on the street near the Carpenter home at the 1000 N block of 2050 East, St. George.

Capt. James Van Fleet said St. George Police Department responded to a call around 12:30 a.m. and found a neighbor who had seen a couple of subjects running away who appeared to have a gasoline can in hand. The suspects were then seen leaving in a silver compact passenger car.

Carpenter had trouble sleeping that night and got up around 12:30 to make sausage.

“I heard a really loud noise outside,” Carpenter said, “and I thought ‘what on earth’ and then a car just went roaring up that hill, I mean I could hear it and I could see its tail lights, and I mean it was really moving up that hill, and I didn’t think anything about it, I figured, you know, there are some kids around here, some people who like to drive fast around here at night.”

Carpenter retired to the downstairs of her house until about a quarter to 1 a.m., when she said she realized there was loud noise outside.

“… so I got up and went upstairs and went to the front door, and my goodness outside there was a fire truck out there with its lights going and some of them was over here and I could see sparks flying, over here by missionaries’ car, and I thought what Is going on here?”

The Fire Department had arrived. Van Fleet said that after the fire was put out, investigators determined it was in fact arson.

Car damaged by arson at 1000 N block of 2050 E, St. George, UT March 13, 2012 | Photo by Ray Carpenter, St. George News

Whitlee Roundy, a neighbor of the Carpenters, said, “We went out and saw a man from up the street who had come down, and then the car burst into flames.”

On being interviewed by the police, Robinson said, “(they) told us that there was a silver car that had came up and had some guys in it and they poured gasoline all over the car and lit it up and squalled off and took off. … They asked if anyone had anything against us or was angry with us. We said no, we get along with just everyone here.”

Robinson said that he does not know if he was personally targeted.

“I honestly couldn’t tell you.  (The officers) said that it was probably just the location.  It was right on the edge of the road and it was easy to hit it and go without being caught, so I don’t know if we were targeted.”

Van Fleet said that Det. Adam Olmstead who was on scene saw no indication that the arson was hate motivated or religiously motivated. “But we’re not ruling it out,” said Van Fleet, “it’s early in the investigation so it may bear some weight.”

Van Fleet also said that it is unknown whether there is any connection to the car fires started in the middle of the night back in October, or others before that. He said that also might be explored as the investigation goes forward.

Carpenter said, “It upsets me a lot that this kind of stuff is happening in our town where people have always been the kind of people who walk down the street and said hi to each other.  This isn’t something that goes on in St. George. I wish that people would be decent and care about each other”

Anyone with information about this case should contact Det. Adam Olmstead of the St. George Police Department at (435) 627-4319.

St. George News reporter and photographer, Troy Hoskins, contributed to this story.  Hoskins is related to Madge Carpenter, interviewed in this story.

Car damaged by arson at 1000 N block of 2050 E, St. George, UT March 13, 2012 | Photo by Ray Carpenter, St. George News


Street where car fire occurred at 1000 N block of 2050 E, St. George, UT March 13, 2012 | Photo by Troy Hoskins, St. George News












email: [email protected]

twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

Copyright 2012 St. George News.


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  • Olin March 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Why worry?
    Mormon$ will replace it

    • Jeremy March 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm

      Really so it’s ok to go around and burn property because it was owned by the lds church. So you see nothing wrong with the fact that they committed a crime against another person I’m sure you would have a completely different view if it was your car or house someone dumped gas on then torched and walked away.

    • Atheria March 19, 2012 at 11:29 am

      It’s a good piece of information to know there are haters like you around who seemingly support the destruction of cars belonging to “Mormons”. Got it, thanks for making sure everyone knows your views and your sentiments.

    • Victor March 19, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      Really Olin, that kind of attitude is what got 6 million Jews killed in NAZI Germany. I could just here them, “…don’t worry, they’re only Jews$, they will replace it…”, when their stores and homes got burnt. Hate and its action starts with one person hating someone else and it boils until decent Christians, in the case of Germany, Lutherans and Catholics, start killing Jews who worshipped the same God most of us worship.

  • R Keith March 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    This happened just up the street from us,we were just finishing up a movie when we heard on the scanner a call for the fire department. I looked at Susie and said hey that is our street ,So we went out side and looked up the street just as the fire was getting big. It took a few more minuets for the fire truck to arrive and the car was put out pretty quick . But it is scary that it happened on our street, as it is usually very quite and serene.

  • Anna March 14, 2012 at 4:55 am

    Mormons or not, is beside the point Olin. It would suck to have this happen to your vehicle. What is wrong with people these days?! Seriously, who says “hey, lets go start this car on fire!” Come on people! Grow up and do something productive with your life instead of ruining everyone else’s!!

  • Kelli March 14, 2012 at 7:22 am

    I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing mugshots soon of two guys that reek of gasoline. People that brash and dumb usually get themselves caught pretty quickly.

    By the way, loved this little detail in the article: “Carpenter had trouble sleeping that night and got up around 12:30 to make sausage.” That’s good to know 🙂

  • Setaf March 14, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Hey Olin,

    It’s comments like yours that cause me to think think forum/comment sections are only here so you can put your foot in your mouth. Well done.

  • dr. elder prostate March 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    this kind of stuff happens? no way, no how. not in st george. i can’t believe there would be people out there that are annoyed by mormons

    • Atheria March 19, 2012 at 11:32 am

      Really? And what have they done to you that deserved burning a car?

      If you hate LDS people why live in St. George? There are MANY more cities WITHOUT a large and very law abiding section of LDS people.

      Haters are haters everywhere people. It’s much worse in bigger cities. Find these creeps and show them for the cowards they are.

  • dr. elder prostate March 14, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    also, he obviously parked in front of a mailbox. USPS doesn’t take that kind of crap

    • Valerie March 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t think they delivered the mail in the middle of the night.

  • Alana March 15, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    This is really hilarious. I am from the hometown of Matthew Robinson (North Florida) and know him personally. He called back home to let everyone know what was going on and said that he felt the night before that he needed to take his and his companion’s stuff out of the car. So, the car was pretty much empty. I would hope that this isn’t any type of hate crime, but hey, some people are just…. Anti-Mormon. And while I am not one of those people, they have the complete right to be. I do hope that whoever did this though gets caught.

    • Nikki March 19, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      Did he say why he felt that he needed to take the stuff out of the car?

  • D.E. Post March 19, 2012 at 9:00 am

    The headlines associated with this story need editing–the missionaries are “puzzled”–not “puzzle, and “Arsons” don’t set fires–“arsonists” do. Are there any decently edited papers left out there?

    • Joyce Kuzmanic March 19, 2012 at 9:24 am

      It puzzles me that you are the first to notice the puzzle lacking the “d.” Thank you.
      Arson is a thing that arsonists do. The thing is as puzzling as those that do it.
      Good comment!
      Keep our feet to the fire – quality and accuracy matter to us a great deal.

      • Paak98 March 19, 2012 at 10:49 am

        1. Ha ha ha Joyce: “Keep our feet to the fire”??? I get it…

        2. These Dumb-and-Dumber criminals don’t get it. Imagine a person being mad enough at Catholic or Methodist or Lutheran religious workers, and torching their car? Be in the service of God, not cowardly lighting a fire at night.

        3. Finally… “12:30am… I can’t sleep. Watch TV? Naah. Read the paper? Naah. Wrestle an alligator? Naah. I know… I’ll make sausage!” That’s my kind of lady!

  • PACS Man March 19, 2012 at 9:04 am

    I always get up at 12:30 in the morning to make sausage…

    • Jennie Hale March 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      Thank You! I kept waiting for someone to mention this!

  • Greig March 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I agree with Olin, the car is replaceable, the main thing is that the Elders are OK, and no one was hurt. Let the police do their job, and see the best in the situation, that it was just some miss-guided person(s) . There is no absolute proof that this was an anti-Mormon fireside.
    Now as to those of us who are getting angry with other peoples comments I give you, 3rd Nephi 11:29.
    Also I recently was reading from Alma chapter 24 where the Anti-Nephi-Lehies chose to die rather than to defend themselves, and because of their choice more than twice the number of their dead were converted, then if you keep reading even more after that. My Point is choose to see the best in people and situations.

  • Linda Millard March 19, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    I would hope that inspiration had something to do with the Elders taking their belongings out of the car. I also believe that the suspects, when caught, should know that replacing the car will cost the insurance company money as the Church insures the vehicles that the missionaries drive. They should bear the responsibility of paying the insurance company back for said damages. I also believe that the missionaries involved are very forgiving and would like an opportunity to visit with the perps….might give them a chance to get to know “those Mormons” a little better. Should change their minds about future nightly fires. My two sons spent their time in the mission field teaching forgiveness and love for their enemies. Maybe that is just what these guys really need.

  • Watching from a safe distance March 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Yeah, the Church will replace the car… it’s got the means and the reasons to do so… I am SO glad the money will come from the sacred funds of tithing we all honestly pay, and that we don’t have to beg for donations… How blessed are we? I am sorry for the two who had the misfortune of messing with the wrong people… President, take an extra set of missionaries to that area!! Let’s rock the place! And brethren, don’t even bother responding to the Anti-Mormon feeling…

  • Jim March 24, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Linda, I fully agree with you on the point that those who set the fire need forgiveness. The fact remains though that these individuals committed a crime not only to the LDS Church or the insurance company but to all of us since we are all in this together. They need to be found and held accountable for their crime. Accountability seems to be something lacking in our society today.

  • Big Bob March 26, 2012 at 4:48 am

    Dr. Prostate, mormons are the most annoying, judgemental religion (cult) out there, so I’m not surprised, even in “perfect” st george!

  • LmAo March 26, 2012 at 4:53 am

    Shtuff happens…so sick of mormons being naive thinking STG is so innocent and pure. This is 2012 for godsake, GET REAL Scared? go ta church lmao!!

  • bydie March 27, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Was it a Volt?

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