New Brunswick

Arson charge laid after Shemogue church fire

An arson charge has been laid against a man in connection with a fire that destroyed Saint Timothée Catholic church in Shemogue in southeastern New Brunswick on Thursday.

Samuel Jamie Vautour sent for 30-day psychiatric evaluation

A fire destroyed Saint Timothée Church in Shemogue on Thursday. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

An arson charge has been laid against a Cap-Pelé man in connection with a fire that destroyed a church in southeastern New Brunswick on Thursday.

Saint Timothée Catholic church in Shemogue was unoccupied and no one was hurt in the fire, RCMP say.

Samuel Jamie Vautour, 26, was charged with a single count of arson during a brief appearance in Moncton provincial court Friday by phone from Shediac RCMP holding cells. 

When he was brought to court Friday afternoon, Judge Ronald LeBlanc ordered a 30-day psychiatric evaluation at the Restigouche Hospital Centre in Campbellton. Vautour returns to court Jan. 10.

Outside the courthouse, his mother Lisa Vautour told reporters her son has struggled with mental health and prescription drug use for almost a decade.

"I will be praying the hardest I've ever prayed in my life that this is it, because I'm tired," she said about her son being sent for the evaluation.

"This is not Sam. And if Sam ends up that he did do, it's the physical body. It's not Samuel. It's the illness in the physical body … If it's determined that he was there, it is not Samuel."

Cap-Pelé fire Chief Ronald Cormier previously said firefighters were called early Thursday morning and the flames quickly spread through the 105-year-old church, destroying it.

According to the Archdiocese of Moncton website, construction of the wooden church began in 1903 and was completed in 1916.

In a news release, RCMP said police are investigating if there are links to a series of other suspicious fires in the region this year.

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