Man charged in 2006 arson of historic Mormon meeting house in Springville

Published: Monday, Dec. 13 2010 11:59 p.m. MST

SPRINGVILLE — Charges have been filed in connection with the 2006 arson fire of a historic LDS church in Springville that forced crews to demolish the meeting house.

On July 28, 2006, crews responded to a fire at the LDS meeting house, 451 South Main Street. The church was built in 1913.

In 1998 it was remodeled at a cost $1.5 million and later rededicated by LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley.

The fire caused approximately $200,000 damage and crews were forced to tear it down rather than rebuild.

The stained glass windows were moved to another church in Springville.

On Monday, the Utah County Attorney's Office announced DNA evidence had led to charges being filed against 24-year-old Jake Devin Dowhaniuk.

Dowhaniuk and others reportedly broke into the church to commit vandalism, according to a statement from Springville police. Dowhaniuk cut himself after breaking in, police said.

A blood sample was analyzed by the state crime lab and came up with a match for Dowhaniuk, currently incarcerated at the Gunnison Prison on an unrelated conviction.

Jay Henry, the lab's director, said DNA testing has "really changed the way we do investigations."

In the old days, the crime lab could run tests for blood type on a large sample. But starting in the early 1990s, DNA analysis gave the lab a powerful new tool that could be used on the tiniest scrap of evidence.

"Sometimes an investigation is stuck, and you just need one piece of the puzzle," Henry said. "All of a sudden, DNA pops in and links two sides of the case together."

The lab's DNA database just hit 50,000 samples and is set to grow Jan. 1, when anyone who is bound over on a violent felony charge will have his or her mouth swabbed for a DNA sample. Since 2006, any person convicted of at least a class A misdemeanor has been entered into the database, which links to others in every state.

In the old days, the crime lab could run tests for blood type on a large sample.

But starting in the early 1990s, DNA analysis gave the lab a powerful new tool that could be used on the tiniest scrap of evidence.

Dowhaniuk was charged Dec. 8 in 4th District Court with 2nd degree felony arson.

He was sentenced to up to five years in prison in 2007 for drug possession, burglary, theft and burglary of a building.

Contributing: Paul Koepp

e-mail: preavy@desnews.com

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