Bond set at $37.5K for church fire suspect

March 23, 2019

BRADLEY — Bond has been set at $37,500 for a man accused of setting a fire at Adventure Christian Church on Feb. 19.

Adam D. Emling, 31, of Bourbonnais, had his first court hearing Thursday after being arrested Tuesday and charged with aggravated arson, criminal damage to property more than $100,000 and obstructing justice by destroying or concealing evidence in connection with the Feb. 19 blaze.

Damage to the church, which is located at 70 Ken Hayes Drive, was estimated at more than $200,000, according to investigators.

According to Lead Pastor Andy Hamilton, Emling is the church’s director of ministry operations. He has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

“We’ve done our best to cooperate with the Bradley police and fire department personnel,” Hamilton said.

“Until this matter is concluded, we have no further comment and defer to the ongoing Bradley Police Department investigation,” Hamilton said. “We appreciate their expertise and investigative work.

“We will allow justice to take its course, and will help (Emling’s) family in our prayers during this process.”

Hamilton attended Thursday’s bond hearing with Emling’s wife and father-in-law.

Prosecutor Daniel Reedy said Emling gave contradicting stories about the night of the fire. Reedy asked bond be set at $50,000.

Assistant public defender Drew Parsons argued that Judge Clark Erickson either release Emling on a personal recognizance bond or set the bond at $10,000.

Parson said Emling was not “a flight risk, had zero criminal record” and is the sole provider for his family, and the charges are just allegations.

Erickson set Emling’s bond at $37,500. Emling’s next court date is April 11.

At 11:40 p.m. on Feb. 19, Bradley fire and police were dispatched to the church for a fire alarm.

During the course of their investigation, fire personnel talked with police investigators about concerns they had surrounding the circumstances of how the fire started.

On Tuesday, police investigators with assistance from fire personnel, interviewed Emling.

According to investigators, Emling admitted to being at the church prior to the fire being discovered, starting a fire inside the church and later deleting video evidence from the church video recording system.

Adventure Church purchased the site of the former Sportsplex (formerly Hidden Cove Sportsplex) in July 2017. Prior to that, the church was located in the 200 block North Kinzie Avenue after purchasing the site in December 2008.

Adventure Commons is home to athletic facilities used for sports leagues. There also are facilities that can be rented for parties and other events.

They are currently working to reopen the miniature golf course.

Prior to Adventure Church, the complex had gone through a series of ownership groups since it opened in 1993.