Officials Determine Origin of Church Fire After Investigation

Youth Held On Charge Of Arson; Pleads "Not Guilty"

Hampton Union, Thursday, December 5, 1940

As a result of a week's investigation by local and state officials, Wayne Ramsden, 20, was arraigned in Municipal Court Monday morning on a charge of being implicated in the fire which caused an estimated $15,000 damage to the Congregational Church.

Ramsden was arrested Saturday evening after a lengthy questioning by police officials who had been conducting an investigation since the fire occurred Nov. 24.

During the week, the authorities headed by Chief of Police Jerome F. Harkness, questioned many persons and followed every lead in an effort to clear up the mystery surrounding the origin of the fire.

As a result of information and facts obtained during the investigation, Ramsden was questioned late Saturday afternoon and it is alleged that he admitted being involved in the fire, his only motive apparently, was the desire for a thrill.

Further questioning revealed that he was implicated in a fire last winter which destroyed a small shack only a short distance from the telephone exchange on Winnacunnet Road where he was employed as night operator

Ramsden was remanded to the Rocking County Jail at Portsmouth over the weekend. Sunday afternoon he was visited by Atty. William H. Sleeper of Exeter, who will represent him as counsel.

In court Monday morning, through his attorney, Ramsden waived examination and entered a plea of not guilty. Following the brief arraignment he was remanded by Judge John W. Perkins to the Rockingham County Jail at Portsmouth.

Monday afternoon Attorney Sleeper petitioned the Rockingham County Superior Court to have Ramsden committed to the State Hospital in Concord for a mental examination and he was taken there Tuesday by Sheriff Simes Frink.

The arrest of Ramsden came as a shock to townspeople among whom he had earned respect and high regard.

Chief Harkness was assisted in the investigation by Sheriff Simes Frink. Lt. Cleveland Percy and Sgt. Herbert F. Gray, both of the criminal investigation division of the state police; and George Scherif representing the National Board of Fire Underwriters.