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Local News

Woman Arrested in Burglary, Arson at Santa Maria Church

Santa Maria police arrested a 24-year-old woman early Thursday in connection with a break-in and arson at St. John Neumann Catholic Church on West Orchard Street.

Officers responding to the church about 3:20 a.m. on a fire alarm call discovered smoke, a shattered window and a religious statue that had been knocked over. Extensive damage had been done to the inside of the church, according to police.

Amanda Ruiz of Santa Maria was found playing a piano inside the church, Sgt. Jack Dunn said.

Ruiz was arrested on charges of burglary, arson and felony vandalism, according to Dunn.

The Santa Maria Fire Department also responded to put out a fire, which police say appeared to have been intentionally set.

Officers recovered narcotics paraphernalia from inside the church, Dunn said.

The investigation was continuing, and anyone with information about the case can call the Police Department at 805.928.3781.

Noozhawk managing editor Michelle Nelson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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