Catholic church desecrated in Richwoods, Missouri

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RICHWOODS, MO (KTVI) - A Catholic church is desecrated and one woman is now charged with burglary and property destruction.  It happened at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Richwoods.  The parish is historic, dating back to 1841. Toussaint Charboneau, the husband of Sacagawea and a translator on the Lewis and Clark expedition is buried in the church’s cemetery.

Barbara Rulo is a parishioner. She said, “That’s how I felt personally violated because this is our home of worship.”

40-year-old Billie Jo Sansoucie of Mineral Point has been charged with burglarizing St. Stephen and causing thousands of dollars in damages.  Fr. Bob knight was awakened at his home next door early on a December morning.  Fr. Knight said, “The lady was pounding on the back door of the church and screaming, she was saying open this door and let me in you’ll be sorry when I catch you.”

Photos show what the priest and police found inside, religious items thrown everywhere, an angel statue broken into pieces, and the St. Stephen statue smashed. Parishioners discovered pill bottles and assorted pills strewn throughout the church.

It looked like a tornado ripped through the house of worship.  Fr. Knight added, “I don’t think she had anything against the church she was just battling demons.”

A parishioner said the archbishop arrived with his chief of security to inspect the damage and determine if this was the result of a hate crime.  Barbara Rulo said, “He felt that was not the case that it was not an isolated incident.”

The pastor said he and his parishioners are praying for the suspect and many have forgiven her for all these damages that total close to $20,000.  Fr. Knight said, “I just want to see her get help.”  Barbara Rulo added, “I have forgiven her and moved on because otherwise you carry that heavy weight with you.”

The suspect’s attorney said neither she nor her client would comment on the matter.