Authorities search for suspect in Purcell City Hall fire

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Jun. 3—PURCELL, Mo. — An apparent attempt to set fire to Purcell City Hall early Thursday is under investigation by the Jasper County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Randee Kaiser said in a statement that deputies were dispatched to City Hall, 104 W. Third St., at 4:18 a.m. Thursday and discovered a small fire near the building's entrance that had been extinguished. There was minimal damage done to the building, the sheriff said.

Investigators determined that someone identified in the statement as a possible suspect was seen in the area of City Hall shortly before the fire. That person is described as a woman with long hair and a medium build who was in a red car.

The sheriff asks that anyone with information about the fire attempt at City Hall contact the department at 417-358-8177. Information also can be submitted on the department's tip line at 417-358-8477 (TIPS).

The sheriff's office had reported earlier this week that a former mayor of Purcell has been charged with the alleged theft of nearly $2,600 in city funds. Nancy M. Wilson, 50, was arrested last week on a warrant charging her with felony stealing. She posted a $2,600 bond and was released from custody. She is scheduled to make her first appearance July 7 in Jasper County Circuit Court.

The arrest was the result of an investigation by the Jasper County Sheriff's Department that began in mid-April when current Mayor Kelsey Freelend reported finding some suspicious checks drawing funds from the city's checking account.