Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

February 26, 2013

Arrests made in church arson case

VALDOSTA — Following a trail of pawned and sold items, authorities have connected five people to the Christmas Day 2012 arson and robbery of the Ousley Road Church of God in Christ and possibly solved several other church burglaries in the process, according to the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office.

The recovery of property stolen from a Morven church led investigators to a Valdosta pawn shop and soon spurred a joint investigation between the Lowndes, Brooks and Thomas County Sheriff's Offices, reports stated.

The investigation led to the issuance of arrest warrants in Lowndes County for Martavius Deshad Davis, 23, and Relandall Megal Samuel, 27, in connection to the church burglary and arson at the Ousley Road church. The two men have each been charged with first degree arson, second-degree burglary and vandalism to a place of worship.

Warrants have also been issued for Archie Bryant Cone, 22, Kelle Lawrence, 25, and Jessica McKeitchen, 20, for their possession of stolen goods, which they sold in Lowndes County, and the three have been charged with theft by receiving stolen property, reports stated.

Bryant and Lawrence have also been charged with theft by deception, reports stated.

All five of the accused have been arrested but only Davis and McKeitchen have been returned to Lowndes County, according to reports.

The three others are in the Thomas and Brooks County jails and will be returned to Lowndes County in the near future, reports stated.

Nothing learned from the investigation so far has indicated that the Ousley Road church fire was a hate crime, but rather that the fire was a result of the actions of the pair while burglarizing the church, reports stated.

Sheriff Chris Prine has stressed that this investigation is ongoing and persons with information are asked to contact investigators at 229-671-2950, online at or via the anonymous tip line at 229-671-2985.

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