PIKE COUNTY, MO (KTVI) – If the people in the small Pike County community of St. Clement had to sum up what happened inside the local Catholic in one word, it might be ‘sinful.’
Late Saturday night, a vandal walked into the empty church and smeared feces on holy items throughout the building.
Some vestments were also discovered drenched in wine.
Charged with first degree Property Damage, a felony, is Linda M. Howard, 54, of nearby Bowling Green, Missouri.
‘She is not an active member of the church,’ said Pike County Sheriff Stephen Korte, who is also a parishioner at St. Clement`s. ‘She is a Catholic, but hasn`t lived in the area very long. She did state to deputies when they interviewed her that she was mad at God for how her life had turned out,’ he said.
Howard was caught after a sheriff`s deputy noticed a truck matching the description of one spotted at the church Saturday night, was sitting at the church again Sunday night, about an hour after an ecumenical service was held in response to the vandalism.
The sheriff says she later confessed her sins to the deputy, claiming she had returned to the church to find forgiveness.
‘I think it`s horrible,’ said Sue Whitaker, who lives next to the church, and whose son had seen the suspect`s truck on Saturday night. ‘I think it is absolutely terrible,’ she said.
Howard did not have to break into the church because they make a point of leaving it unlocked so anyone who needs a place to pray has a place to pray.
St. Clement is part of the Diocese of Jefferson City, which released the following written statement in response to the vandalism:
‘The St. Clement parish community and the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City are healing after the events of this weekend. Local parish representatives are cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation. The diocese is aware that a suspect has been identified in this matter. It is the diocese`s hope that the person responsible receives the appropriate help and treatment that is necessary.’
Howard is being held on a $5000 cash only bond.