Ex-Girlfriend of Pastor Charged With Arson: 'He Wants to Kill Me'

Mark Lewis' accused of hiring transients to throw a firebomb into his ex’s home.

ByABC News
April 24, 2014, 1:19 PM

April 25, 2014— -- A California woman, whose ex-boyfriend is accused of hiring transients to throw a Molotov cocktail into her home, said she believes he wanted her dead.

“It definitely was clear to me that he's not just out to hurt me, but he wants to kill me,” Sarah Nottingham told ABC News’ “20/20.”

On Jan. 9, Nottingham said a Molotov cocktail crashed through her home as she and her family slept. Shortly after, police stopped a suspicious truck and arrested three transients, who, after questioning, confessed they were hired by Nottingham’s ex-boyfriend, Mark Lewis.

Lewis, the pastor of Independent Fellowship Baptist Church in Vacaville, Calif., denied any involvement in the incident to local reporters. He is currently awaiting trial on arson and fraud charges. The three transients, who say they were staying at the pastor’s church, all pleaded not guilty.

Nottingham first met Lewis at his church.

“To see somebody that was that excited for God and to have that much enthusiasm ... just, you know, it was exciting,” Nottingham said.

She was a Sunday school teacher at the church and was married by Lewis. But her marriage fell apart after two and a half years, and she left the church. In 2011, when Lewis’ wife, Joanna Lewis, was found dead of an apparent suicide, Nottingham said Lewis called her within 24 hours.

“He was crying and he asked me if I had heard what happened,” said Nottingham. “And I told him, ‘Yes.’”

The two, according to Nottingham, eventually became secret lovers.

“He worried about his [church],” Nottingham said. “‘If they find out I’m dating the ex of one of my, you know, parishioners here, I’m going to lose the church.’”

But Lewis instead lost Nottingham, who said she discovered he was sending inappropriate text messages to female parishioners, including 17-year-old Desiree Nye, who had been a member of the church since age 5.

“At first, I always looked at him like a dad,” Nye told “20/20.” “And then, I was more confused because then he would send me something ... inappropriate ... like a picture of him with nothing on.”

Nye said she asked Lewis to stop sending the photographs and Nottingham closed the door on their relationship for good.

“You are sick, twisted and manipulative. I don't want to see your face again,” Nottingham recalled saying in an email to Lewis.

Nottingham said Lewis refused to let her go, sending text messages and emails obtained by "20/20."

“I don’t want to become a crazy person,” “It’s on now,” and “Let your parents know it’s on,” Lewis wrote.

“He cannot stand when something's out of his control," Nottingham said. "That's when you can see his temper just flare up.”

Nottingham turned to domestic violence peer counselor Patricia Hunter, who was the mother of Lewis’ deceased wife. Hunter warned Nottingham to call the police and cut off all ties with Lewis.

“I was dumb enough to believe in your games,” Nottingham said in a text to Lewis. “You're not welcome at my house, and I don't want to see your face again."

At this point, Nottingham said, the pastor launched a series of attacks on her and her family. She found her car windshield smashed and, a few days later, neighbors came to her door to tell her that her bushes were on fire. The Pastor denied to police that he was involved in these incidents. Then came the night the Molotov cocktail was thrown into Nottingham’s home and burned the window blinds.