The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Clovis man charged with negligent arson

 

Ricky Morse

CLOVIS — Early into an investigation of two apparent arson incidents, Clovis police on Tuesday asked for any information relative to either fire or the at-large suspect charged in connection with one.

Ricky Morse, 22, of Clovis was charged with negligent arson after a report Tuesday morning of a fire started just before 2 a.m. at Clovis' Sacred Heart Church, records show.

Morse remained at large late Tuesday afternoon and police in a news release asked anyone with information on his whereabouts to contact the department.

An employee at the church called police around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and "reported someone had came in the church during the night and started a fire and attempted to steal from the donation box."

Church security footage shows a man "immediately recognize(d)" by police as Morse at 1:45 a.m. entering the church's worship hall, which is open 24 hours, according to a criminal complaint.

The video shows the suspect eating from cans in the collection box, trying to insert a lit stick into the donation box and later "with an object, possibly a pocket knife, trying to pry open the donation box."

The church employee showed police "a fire extinguisher on the wall that had been discharged on the ground," along with a stack of "burnt and charred" brochures piled on the ground, as well as a burn mark on a pew "where someone had attempted to catch it on fire," wrote Officer Trevor Thron.

Around 10:40 a.m. while police were taking that report, public works personnel "observed smoke coming from the air conditioner vents" at a foreclosed vacant building "located directly across the street from the Church," said the complaint.

That building is without electricity and the fire is also being investigated as arson, said the news release. Officials say the two incidents "may be related."

 

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