Man charged with federal hate crime, arson in connection with Cape Girardeau church fire

The man accused of burning down a church in Cape Girardeau last year now faces federal charges.
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 3:59 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - A man was charged with a federal hate crime and arson in connection with a 2021 church fire.

The Justice Department made the announcement on Thursday, May 5.

According to court documents, Christopher Scott Pritchard, 46, was charged with intentionally obstructing parishioners of the church in the enjoyment of their free exercise of religious beliefs and using fire to commit a federal felony.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, for using fire to commit a federal felony.

Pritchard also faces a fine of up to $250,000 for each charge.

In April 2021, according to court documents, a couple at an apartment building saw smoke coming from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that they also saw a man with a backpack watching the smoke before fire crews arrived.

The deputy stated he found the same man walking on Highway 177 and learned he was Christopher Pritchard.

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