19-year-old Steven Jeffrey Davidson has been charged with arson in connection with the June 30 burning of a Colleton County church. A Smoaks native, Davidson is accused of setting fire to and destroying the Emmanuel Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith located in the Smoaks area. SLED Captain for the Lowcountry region Roger Heaton says local authorities noticed that Davidson was present at the church fire and at two trailer fires that occured before and after the church fire.
“The local law enforcement was aware of him and the agents actually just approached him there at the fire scene and started talking to him and he became a person of interest. We continued to talk with him and then when we had a third fire just a few days later he was also at that fire scene as firefighters were trying to put the fire out.”
Heaton says Davidson also faces charges in the first mobile home fire that occured on May 29. He is also charged with second degree burglary for breaking into the church before setting it on fire.
Heaton says when piecing together the timeline of the two mobile home fires and the church fire and after interviewing the suspect, local authorities concluded that Davidson’s presence at the fires was more than coincidental.
“We had a mobile home fire next to the church, then we had the church fire, and then we had another mobile home fire. “This gentleman has been charged in the first mobile home fire, he’s been charged in the church fire, he has not been charged in the third fire but we are still looking into that one.”
Davidson’s presence at the fires may lead some to believe that the suspect is a pyromaniac hanging around to watch the blazes. Heaton says the local solicitor, as well as Davidson’s legal representative may call for Davidson to undergo a psychological evaluation. Heaton adds that a person can have several concrete motives for setting a building on fire.
“A lot of times people will set a fire to try to cover up another crime such as burglary or something like that. They think that by burning the building they will eliminate any trace or detection of the crime. That may very well be what we have here.”