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ORANGE COUNTY DIGEST

Tustin : Local News in Brief : Arson Suspect Arrested in $170,000 Church Fire

December 07, 1987

A Costa Mesa man who telephoned police to claim responsibility for a $170,000 fire in a church was arrested on suspicion of arson, authorities said Sunday.

Tustin police said Michael Anthony Murray, 19, called the Costa Mesa Police Department about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, claiming that he set fire to the Tustin Church of Scientology earlier that morning.

The unoccupied church in the 1400 block of Irvine Boulevard was discovered ablaze about 2:12 a.m. Saturday, fire officials said. One firefighter was treated for minor smoke inhalation, but there were no serious injuries reported.

A Tustin police spokesman said no motive for setting the fire has been established, and investigators also were uncertain whether Murray had any association with the church.

But a church spokeswoman reached Sunday said that no church members knew of Murray.

Murray, who was being held Sunday in the Orange County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail, told investigators he had moved to Orange County from Maryland about six months ago.

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