New charges pending against second Emmett church arson suspect

jsowell@idahostatesman.comApril 2, 2014 

Gem County Prosecutor Richard Linville said Wednesday he has refiled charges against Bradley Ryan Thomasson in the April 27, 2013, arsons that heavily damaged two Emmett churches.

Thomasson, 42, was originally charged with two counts each of first-degree arson and burglary, along with grand theft and petit theft.

The court file was later sealed and for several months it was unclear whether the case against Thomasson was moving forward. Thomasson was released from prison in 2012 after serving 22 years of a 20-years-to-life sentence for the 1990 murder of his parents.

Because he was out on parole, Thomasson was returned to prison on a parole violation. That gave Linville time to pursue charges against co-defendant William Charles Dorahush Jr., 45, before turning his attention back to Thomasson.

The two men were accused of breaking in and setting fire overnight to the First Baptist Church and the Community Bible Church, located within three blocks of one another off downtown Emmett.

"It was a big deal in town. You had two churches in the heart of town that were torched," Linville said. "At the time, no one understood why it happened, whether it was a hate crime or something else."

Because of that uncertainty, the FBI was called in to assist Emmett police in investigating the arsons. It was later determined the two suspects hoped to find cash and other valuables inside the churches.

The Baptist church, which has an Italianate design and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1915. It was designed by the prominent Boise firm of Nisbet & Paradice, which designed the Empire Building in downtown Boise and the Basque boarding house, the Anduiza Hotel.

Dorahush pleaded guilty in September to two counts of first-degree arson. The burglary and theft charges, equal to those originally filed against Thomasson, were dismissed in exchange for his guilty pleas.

Dorahush was sentenced in December to 25 years in prison with a minimum of five years to serve before he is eligible for parole. He is serving his sentence at the Idaho State Correctional Institution in Kuna.

He was previously convicted of two arsons in 1992 and Linville earlier described him as a career criminal.

Linville said he was unable to talk about the new charges against Thomasson because the court file has been sealed. The court is waiting for Thomasson to be brought to Emmett from Boise for a first appearance; then the file will be made public, Linville said.

John Sowell: 377-6423, Twitter: @IDS_Sowell

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