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Sheriff’s office identifies additional suspect in church vandalism incident

“I couldn’t believe that someone would be so mean, so evil,”
Published: Oct. 17, 2021 at 12:14 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 29, 2021 at 1:10 PM CDT
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SOMERVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office says it identified five suspects who they say vandalized a church in Morgan County.

The sheriff’s office initially said four suspects include two 14-year-old males, one 13-year-old female and one 11-year-old female.

Deputies identified an additional 14-year-old juvenile suspect on October 29.

The names have not been released due to the ages of the suspects.

On October 16, deputies and investigators were called to St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Somerville. Deputies say that at some point in the prior week, the church was vandalized. The damage could cost several thousand dollars, according to deputies.

“There’s no part of the building that was left untouched. There’s paint thrown all over the sanctuary, ruining carpet ruining pews. You have walls that are written on, graffiti, it’s really just total destruction on the inside,” said Mike Swafford with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office.

[Church Vandalism Update] Investigators have identified 4 juvenile subjects in relation to the vandalism at St. John's...

Posted by Morgan County Sheriff's Office on Sunday, October 17, 2021

Swafford says the group of juveniles admitted destroying the church over 2 days.

“You know, just teenagers in there without supervision, and damage and destruction ensued,” said Swafford.

Deacon Curtin Burton and his daughter Lynette came to the church Saturday to prepare for Sunday service. They walked inside and were absolutely shocked.

“It’s terrible,” said Burton.

“I couldn’t believe that someone would be so mean, so evil,” said Lynette.

The church has less than 25 members, and the pastor passed away just weeks ago.

“We don’t really know how we’ll get through this, you know. People are trying to help us so, we’re depending on people to help us,” said Burton.

Lynette says something needs to be done and the kids need to be punished.

“When you don’t have anything for children to do, this is what you get. We’re out here in a rural area and there’s absolutely no activities for these children,” said Burton.

Morgan County Sheriff Ron Puckett is sending trustee inmates to help with the cleanup, and his goal is to have the church ready for this coming Sunday.

“We’re just going to depend on the Lord to help us through this, and that’s who we’ve depended on so far,” said Lynette.

The Sheriff’s office has gotten statements from five juveniles and their families, and are waiting to finalize the arrest warrants until they speak with everyone potentially involved. The case will then go through the juvenile court system, and the children will face burglary and criminal mischief charges.

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