A woman who worked as the finance clerk of Mill City was arrested last night on suspicion she burned down the city hall building in order to destroy evidence that she misused city funds.
Linn County deputies say 47-year-old Joy Cronin now faces three counts of first-degree arson after a grand jury indicted her in connection with the September 2010 fire.
Cronin suffered injuries in the September blaze and was taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland.
Deputies say it took months to make an arrest because of the complexity of the case.
"It's a shock to find out that it really was her; the rumors were true," said Teresa Henry, who lives across the street from City Hall and watched it burn down last year.
"That thing burned so hot and so fast," said Henry.
The Sheriff of Linn County says Cronin was charged with three counts of felony arson but could face more criminal charges at a later date. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is handling the financial portion of the investigation, according to the Sheriff.
"We don't know how in-depth it is ourselves," said Mill City Mayor Tim Kirsch, who was not Mayor at the time of the arson.
The Mayor says he doesn't yet know details of how funds may have been misused, or how much money was potentially lost.
"No one believes that it could have been anything really substantial because there wasn't that much missing at the time," said Mayor Kirsch.
Cronin never returned to work for the city following the arson, but at the time of the fire, she was the city's lone finance clerk.
"How many funds did she misuse that affect every single community member here?" asked Teresa Henry. "We don't know; we may never know."
The Mayor, as well as past city leaders, say there was never any warning signs of financial wrongdoing before the arson.
"I knew and worked with Joy for a longtime and liked her as a person," said Mayor Kirsch. "I don't know what drives a person to make bad choices, but hopefully this brings closure to this whole episode, and we get to move on and move forward."
Cronin appeared in court Friday and posted bail Friday evening, according to Linn County Jail. She's expected back in court later this month.
Mill City has a population of about 1,600. It's southeast of Salem on the North Santiam River.
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