Photo Gallery | Church vandals strike again with Satanic graffiti
One of the most historic churches in the state has been hit by vandals for the second night in a row.
On Wednesday morning members of Organ Lutheran Church in eastern Rowan County came to the church to clean obscene and blasphemous graffiti that had been painted on the centuries old church late Sunday or early Monday, but then they arrived, they found that the newer building had been vandalized overnight.
"This only brings our congregation together, stronger, it only strengthens our resolve," Reverend Ours told WBTV. "We're going to move on, we're going to continue to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, I don't even care if this building is here, we'll preach the gospel of Jesus Christ."
The same type symbols are present, mostly the name of Satan, the number 666, pentagrams and upside down crosses. Those are symbols normally associated with devil worship.
Detectives from Anson, Stanly, and Rowan counties are working together to find whoever is responsible for vandalizing several churches and businesses with spray paint and Satanic graffiti since the weekend.
Captain John Sifford with the Rowan County Sheriff's Office reported the first round of damage to a stone wall at Organ Lutheran Church would cost $10,000.
Investigators aren't sure if all of the cases are related, but all are comparing notes to see if the same person or group is responsible.
On Wednesday morning Organ Lutheran's pastor Carlin Ours told WBTV that the SBI was investigating the damage, but he said it did nothing to break the spirit of the church and its members.
One church in Ansonville and at least a dozen churches and businesses throughout Stanly County reported the incidents on Monday.
According to both sheriff's departments, the crime happened sometime in the late evening hours of November 13 or the early morning hours of November 14.
Deputies were called to the Cedar Hill AME Zion Church on Spring Road north of Ansonville Monday afternoon and found the inside the church "literally destroyed on the inside," according to the Anson County Sheriff Tommy Allen.
Allen said the damage was the worst case of vandalism and hate crime he's ever seen.
"On the inside of the church we found tables broken, ceiling fans broken, speakers pulled from the walls and thrown through the stain glass windows, chairs broken and thrown through windows, the podium destroyed, every window in the church broken out and graffiti spray painted all outside the church,” Allen said.
The sheriff's office said phrases including “God is a Lie" and "house of the devil" were spray painted on the walls, along with the N-word and F-word.
A cross from the pulpit was also moved to the church’s front door where the vandal(s) tried to burn it.
"This is not anything I’ve ever seen in Anson County before," Allen said.
Cedar Hill pastor Rev. Renee Bethea told WBTV how she and her congregation were coping.
"Prayer, the realization that whoever did this has a lot of pain, hurting, a lot of anger, in some ways it's just evil," Bethea said. "Whoever did this has a story and it's full of pain and anger."
Sheriff Allen has asked the State Bureau of Investigations to assist his officers with the case.
In Stanly County, the sheriff's office release a list of 12 churches and businesses from Oakboro to Richfield that were hit by the vandals, all victims of spray paint. Those churches and businesses include:
- Green Memorial Church at 11495 Hwy 138 in Norwood reported spray paint on a sign.
- Cottonville AME Zion Church at 4814 Plank Road in Norwood reported spray paint on the church and windows.
- Clear Water Baptist Church at 41462 Hwy 740 in New London reported spray paint on a sign.
- New Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church at 40237 Millingport Road in Richfield reported spray paint on a sign.
- Barry Evans McSwain at 39270 Boone Caudle Road in Norwood reported spray paint on a business sign.
- Morris Automotive at 44847 Hwy 8 in New London reported spray paint on a vehicle.
- Foreman Ranch at 10171 Foreman Ranch Road in Oakboro reported spray paint on a sign.
- Barbee’s Grove Baptist Church at 24786 Barbee’s Grove Road in Oakboro reported spray paint on a sign.
- Faith Baptist Church at 9481 Hwy 138 in Oakboro reported spray paint on the building walls.
- Gleaning Mission Church at 21413 East Eighth Street in Oakboro reported spray pain on a sign.
- Larry Efird at 17224 Frog Pond Road in Oakboro reported a spray painted mailbox.
- Lighthouse Baptist Church at 28699 Millingport Road in Albemarle reported a spray painted sign.
A reward has been offered by Crime Stoppers in both counties of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects in this case.
Those with information may call the Stanly County Crime Stoppers at 704-982-0711 or the Anson County Crime Stoppers at 704-694-4188.
The congregation of Cedar Hill and Rev. Bethea are vowing to rebuild.
"They tore up the church, this is just a building, they didn't touch our spirit, did not touch our spirit," Bethea added.