Greenville, MS – On March 28, 2019, Washington County Circuit Judge Margaret Carey-McCray accepted the guilty plea of Andrew McClinton, 47 years of age, for the arson that destroyed the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church. McClinton will be sentenced during the week of April 29, 2019.
The investigation of the church burning began in the evening hours of November 1, 2016, the Greenville Fire Department responded to a 911 call for a fire at the Hopewell Church on Delesseps Street. Upon arrival, they found the church fully engulfed in flames. Local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies began their investigations into the fire and over the course of a several weeks long investigation developed McClinton as a suspect in the arson. The investigation resulted in the collection of cell phone records and video surveillance that tied McClinton to the scene. In December 2016, McClinton gave a confession to law enforcement in which he admitted to setting the fire in the church using the church’s electrical wires to light the carpet on fire. The church was completely destroyed in the fire.
McClinton had been previously convicted of a 2004 Armed Robbery and a 1997 Attempted Armed Robbery, with both convictions occurring in Lee County, Mississippi. McClinton will be sentenced as a Habitual Offender in light of his previous felony convictions.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys John Herzog Jr. Kaylon McCou, and Austin Frye. Herzog said that “without the dedicated and diligent teamwork of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies striving to attain justice, this painful chapter in the long history of the Hopewell M.B. Church could not have been closed. Those members of the public who assisted law enforcement deserve a special note of recognition and praise, this case could not have been closed and McClinton brought to justice without their valuable assistance,” Herzog further said.
The case was investigated by the Greenville Fire Department, the Greenville Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s Office. Local businesses and citizens also provided valuable assistance to law enforcement during the course of the investigation.
District Attorney W. Dewayne Richardson states, “The Office of the District Attorney is elated to bring closure to a single incident that gave a black eye to the Queen City of the Mississippi Delta. Through McClinton’s selfish actions, he brought national attention to our community. On today, McClinton admitted guilt before Circuit Court McCray and he will soon be sentenced for his actions.”
Contact: W. Dewayne Richardson District Attorney, Fourth Circuit Court District | 662-378-