Orem police ID teen they say admitted to damaging 2 Latter-day Saint churches in Orem; $600K in damages done

Jillian Nichole Robinson was booked into the Utah County Jail on suspicion of arson of an Orem church, shown in a file photo. Photos: Utah County, Google Earth

OREM, Utah, March 29, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — A Lindon teen has been booked into the Utah County Jail on suspicion of arson and criminal mischief charges after a Friday morning fire at one LDS Church building in Orem and damage done to a second.

“The total damage at both buildings has been estimated at over $600,000,” a statement on the Orem Police Department Facebook page says.

Jillian Nichole Robinson, 18, was booked on suspicion of:

  • Arson, a second-degree felony
  • Burglary, a third-degree felony
  • Criminal mischief, a class B misdemeanor
  • Manufacture/possession of burglary tools, a class B misdemeanor

Orem Police officers were notified of the fire at about 1:53 a.m. after a witness reported hearing a popping sound coming from the LDS meetinghouse at 1230 N 950 West.

“Upon arrival, I observed there were multiple small fires inside the chapel of the church building,” says a probable cause statement filed by an OPD officer.

“The glass door to the chapel was broken on the southwest side. That door was located on the south west side of the building. Also, the glass door on the northside of the building had been broken as well, this appeared to be the point of entry.

“I observed that on the white door jam there was the writing ‘Satan Lives’ and the electric door entry access control panel for an electronic key fob was pried off the jam and appeared to be cut from the door and was missing. The writing appeared to have been done in a dark colored marker permanent felt tip.”

An officer put out the fire using extinguishers from his patrol car. Other officers began to patrol the area.

“Officer Hansen observed a suspicious individual at the LDS church located at 828 W. 1600 North, and attempted to make contact with the individual. Hanson lost the visual of the suspicious person around the church building. Other Officers arrived in the
area to assist.”

Officers set up a perimeter, and an official noticed another instance of door graffiti, the probable cause statement says.

“I was informed that there was writing on the north side door to the 1600 North church
building. I observed two parts of the door jam had the writing ‘Satan Lives’ on it. The writing was similar as the writing on the door at the 1230 North church building.

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“I could also smell the strong odor of gasoline surrounding the area of the north side of the church especially around the door with the writing on it and the windows adjacent to that door.”

An electric door control had been pried off, and a felt pen with black ink had been used to leave the satanic message. The smell of gas was present.

Another officer reported at 2:11 a.m. that he was in contact with the female suspect.

“Officer Schroemges reported that Robinson had in her possession a bottle which smelled of gas and a lighter and matches. It was then later reported that Robinson also had a black Sharpie brand marker, screwdriver, and a drill with drill bits.”

Robinson told officers she had been using a vehicle and left it at the church parking lot, the probable cause statement says. That vehicle, a 2001 Buick LeSabre, was found to have been used in a drug case involving Robinson five days earlier.

“It is believed that Robinson was directly related to the arson and criminal mischief of the two church buildings and that she used the vehicle for transportation between the buildings,” the statement says. “The two buildings are approximately three quarters of a mile apart from each other.”

“She (Robinson) denied any involvement in the cases and gave several different stories about what she had done yesterday. It was found Jillian was lying, and after explaining to her the seriousness of the crimes, she decided to write a voluntary witness statement which she indicated several times was just being written so we would be done with the interview.”

Robinson was notified her statements could be used as sworn testimony, and that any false statement could result in additional charges.

“The suspect wrote on the statement ‘I acted alone in the fire that was started at the church on 1200 N. I was angry and all I wanted to do was set a small fire and it got out of control. I fled the scene and didn’t look back. I felt like playing with fire because of my crazy life at home, this was not a hate crime.”

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