Sheriff's office investigating church break-ins

Sheriff's office investigating church break-ins

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Whoever broke into one of two churches recently left behind a key piece of evidence: their blood.

Between the hours of 6 p.m. Thursday and 10:30 a.m. Friday, someone broke into New Haven Church of Christ, 2607 Hwy. 351 in Jonesboro; and New Antioch Baptist Church, 429 CR 960 in Brookland.

New Antioch Baptist reported the first break-in at 8 a.m. Friday. Pastor Tony Stottlemyre arrived at the church to find a window broken out.

Inside he found his filing cabinet had been pried open, and a gray metal box containing an undisclosed amount of cash was missing. The thief also stole a 42" flat-screen TV, valued at $400.

Deputy Shannon Simino of the Craighead County Sheriff's Department reported finding a boot print on the back door and pry marks where someone tried to gain entry.

The window beside the door, he stated, had pry marks where it had been pried before breaking the glass to enter the church.

"I don't know why anybody would break into a church, let alone steal money that the kids worked so hard for," Stottlemyre said.

He said money and electronics could be replaced, but not a guitar that his father gave him before he passed away.

"They took three guitars," Stottlemyre said. "I can't replace the one my dad got me when I was a teenager. That one was tough."

Still, Stottlemyre said he would offer up forgiveness to whoever is responsible and the church will increase its security.

"We'll discuss what steps to take from here and what we need to do to help protect ourselves from something like this from happening again," Stottlemyre said. "We are going to try to pick up the pieces that are left and just move forward from here and try to learn from it."

New Antioch was not the only church broken into. At 10:30 a.m. Friday, Deputy Simino was called to New Haven Church of Christ where a thief broke in and stole a 40" flat-screen TV, valued at $400.

According to Simino, the culprit pried open a back window, breaking the glass, to get inside. He also noticed the broken glass appeared to "have some spots of suspected blood." The evidence was collected for processing.

Sheriff Marty Boyd told Region 8 News he believes both break-ins are related.

Anyone with information on either of these burglaries should call the sheriff's office at (870) 933-4551 or Crimestoppers at 935-STOP (7867).

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