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  • Chad Hobbs

Meade County's oldest Catholic Church is severely vandalized by two juveniles for the second time in as many days

The Meade County Sheriff's Office responded to St. Theresa of Avila in Rhodelia, the oldest Catholic church in Meade County, this morning, April 9, after parishioners realized that the church and parish hall had been vandalized when they arrived before mass and noticed the hardwood floors on the altar looked like they had been spray painted white. It turned out to be the result of fire extinguishers being sprayed throughout the church.

According to Sheriff Phillips Wimpee, Deputies and Detectives were provided with a video of two juveniles vandalizing the exterior of the buildings. Upon entering the buildings, they found extensive damage inside. Multiple fire extinguishers were sprayed inside the church, and numerous religious artifacts were destroyed. The Holy Cabinet was emptied, and the oil was poured out on the floors, ruining the carpet inside the church. They also turned the crucifix on the altar upside down. Inside the parish hall, all the appliances in the kitchen, a fireplace mantle, and toilet tops were among the destruction. Damages to the church and parish hall are estimated to be well over $10,000, as the cleaning company that has been called in estimates the cleanup of the church alone will be close to $10,000.

Detectives processed the scene and collected numerous items of evidence. Meanwhile, Deputies processed the scene of additional damage to headstones in the cemetery across the road from the church that occurred the day before. Over 50 headstones were toppled, broken, and damaged.

Two juvenile suspects have been taken into custody. They have been charged with Burglary in the Second Degree and Criminal Mischief in the First Degree. The investigation will now be turned over to the County Attorney and Commonwealth Attorney's Office for prosecution.

St. Theresa is the oldest Catholic church in Meade County. The current church was built and in use in 1857. It was officially dedicated on June 16, 1861, by Bishop Martin John.

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