St. Joseph’s Catholic Church members gathered in their Parish hall for Sunday morning Mass July 27, as they did the evening before due to a Saturday morning fire in their church next door. A fire that the State Fire Marshall later that day ruled as arson.
Matthew Grubtill, 23, of Broken Bow has been arrested for the crime.
The beer bottles, beer caps and matches left in the church led the Broken Bow Police to Grubtill. He was arrested at his residence following the execution of a search warrant later that day.
Monday, in Custer County Court, Grubtill was read his rights and charged with 2nd degree arson (a Class III felony) and criminal mischief (a Class IV felony.)
Mike Borders was appointed by the court as his attorney.
Judge Tami Schendt refused the request for a personal recognizance bond, so the $50,000 bond remains in place. Grubtill’s preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 25 at 2 p.m.
The investigation is ongoing.
Broken Bow Fire and Rescue responded to the scene shortly before 9 a.m. with reports of smoke bellowing out of the front of the church. Merna was called as mutual aid and Ansley put on standby.
According to Andy Holland of the Broken Bow Fire Department the fire was confined to a closet. The department had the fire knocked down in about 10 minutes and remained on scene for about two hours.
“We were hoping that by getting the fans on as fast as we did help minimize the damage, said Holland.