Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Suspicious Blaze Damages Ponte Vedra Beach Church

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Suspicious Blaze Damages Ponte Vedra Beach Church

Article excerpt

No one was injured in a suspicious fire Monday that caused about $20,000 damage to Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra Beach.

The fire at the 5,000-member church was reported at 6:40 a.m. It damaged the doors and about 10-15 feet of ceiling, rector's associate Thomas Mantz said.

The Rev. Rick Westbury, the church's priest, sent an e-mail to church members: "We are saddened to report the fire marshals did indicate our church was the victim of arson. We've no idea who or why but are confident the investigation will answer these questions in the coming days and weeks."

A Fire Marshal's Office investigator was unavailable Monday for comment.

The Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

Ken Lewis


An Orange Park woman was listed as stable at a Daytona Beach hospital Monday after being injured in a head-on collision Sunday that killed three people.

Jessica Palmer, 25, was a passenger in a Mazda sedan that crossed a grass median on Interstate 4 and collided head-on with a Hyundai about 9:30 p.m. near Deland, authorities said. The driver and two passengers in the Hyundai died, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

After observing Mazda driver David Brown, 32, of Daytona Beach, at the hospital, a trooper ordered a blood test to determine if he had been drinking, Trooper Kim Miller said Monday. Results won't be available for several weeks.

Killed were Annette Balistreri, 40, and back seat passengers, Dominick Nichols, 72, and Carole Nichols, 67. All were from Troy, N.Y.

Balistreri was wearing a seat belt. Neither back seat passenger was belted, and both were partially ejected, Miller said.

A fourth occupant of the Hyundai, Melissa Shufon, 38, was in serious condition Monday at Hallifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach.

Brown and another passenger, Matthew Washington, 11, of Texas, were stable Monday.

Associated Press


Police have identified a Jacksonville man found dead Saturday in an east Arlington condominium.

Alan L. Litvack, 46, was found at 1735 Forest Lake Circle West after police went to his home to investigate a burning vehicle.

Sgt. Evander Collier said police were investigating a car fire on Sistrunk Street about 3:45 a.m. Saturday and a check of the tags on the burning vehicle led them to Litvack's home.

When they arrived, a sport utility vehicle pulled out of the driveway and sped off, hitting a fence, Collier said.

One man was arrested after he walked up to police with what appeared to be blood on his pants while officers investigated Litvack's stabbing death.

Elvis Masinovic, 19, was being held on a murder charge. Police also arrested Benjamin M. Dyess, 17, and Carl Lester Carr Jr. …

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