Crime Stock 2

Rockingham County fire marshals charged a woman accused of setting fire to a home Tuesday morning.

Laurel Christine Ansell, 36, of Rockingham County, is charged with felony arson, felony drug possession and felony prisoner in possession of an unlawful chemical.

Ansell appeared in Rockingham County General District Court on Wednesday.

Substitute Judge Tracy Evans scheduled a preliminary hearing for July 27.

The investigation into Ansell began shortly before 10 a.m., when Rockingham County Fire and Rescue responded to a home at 4234 Park Way, near Page County.

According to a criminal complaint, when Fire Marshal Wes Shifflett arrived at the scene, he was directed to the home’s occupant, Ansell.

Shifflett questioned her about what happened. The complaint states she said, “I was burning the underneath of two different chairs in the living room with a torch style lighter.”

She then told Shifflett she went upstairs and returned downstairs to find the chairs on fire, the complaint states.

Ansell, according to the complaint, then told Shifflett she threw a bag of cement on the blaze and went outside.

Ansell doesn’t own the home, which suffered significant damage.

The complaint states that drugs may have played a factor in the crime.

“Ms. Ansell appears to be under the influence of some sort of substance based upon her actions and body motions,” the complaint states. “Ms. Ansell never provided an answer to why she was burning the chairs.”

Evans also held Ansell in contempt for using vulgar language toward him. He issued her a 10-day jail sentence.

Ansell has a previous felony conviction in Rockingham County in 2014 for unauthorized use of a vehicle. She received a five-year suspended sentence.

She is being held on a $15,000 bond at the Rockingham County Jail.

Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6267 or Follow Pete on Twitter @pdelea_DNR

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