Fire that destroyed historic central MN church was arson, sheriff says

There's a $5,000 reward after the 1893 church near Little Falls burned to the ground.

A church that stood over a tiny central Minnesota community for nearly 125 years burned to the ground early Friday and the local sheriff says it was a case of arson.

Morrison County Sheriff Shawn Larsen said in a statement that Darling Church was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived at 3:30 a.m.

According to the Morrison County Record, a 25-person crew from the Randall Fire Department spent three hours fighting the blaze. The fire chief told the Record they had to shuttle in water from Randall, which is five miles away. The crew was able to keep the fire from spreading into the woods, but the 1893 building is a total loss.

Sheriff Larsen said investigators determined the fire was set. The Minnesota Arson Reward Project is offering $5,000 for information about who's responsible, the county's statement says.

There's not much in Darling Township, which is between Little Falls and Randall on Highway 10. The township supervisor tells the Star Tribune the abandoned church – unused since 1967 – was the only thing that alerted people they were in Darling Township.

Some history buffs regarded Darling Church as haunted.

A Morrison County Historical Society blog relates that in 1905 the body of a young woman, Annie Kintop, was found outside the church. She'd been beaten and strangled but her killer was never found.

Ghost hunters had visited the site and there are photos of it here and here.

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