Columbus Police make arrest in recent church vandalism cases

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comApril 12, 2014 

Less than a week after churches were damaged, Columbus police have arrested James Morris in connection with the rash of church vandalism, Lt. Steve Cox said Saturday morning.

Morris, who had connections to three of the churches that were damaged, was taken into custody Friday and charged with six counts of vandalism to a place of worship, Cox said. Morris, 25, is being held without bond in the Muscogee County Jail for a 9 a.m. Monday hearing in Recorder’s Court.

Originally, it was reported that five churches were damaged, but Cox said the investigation determined that six churches were hit last weekend. Someone threw rocks and cement blocks through windows at the churches between 5 p.m., April 5 and 8 a.m., April 6. A large rock was so forcefully thrown through Twelve Disciples Baptist Church’s bathroom window that it damaged the opposite wall.

Cox credited the work of Burglary and Theft Unit detective Thomas Hill in breaking the case within a week of the crimes being reported.

“Detective Hill did an incredible job in connecting the dots in the recent vandalism to church in south Columbus,” Cox said. “Within 36 hours of being assigned the cases, not only did he locate the source of the projectiles used to damage the churches, he was able to identify and arrest a suspect.” No motive has been determined, Cox said.

“But we have determined that Morris had connections to three of the damaged churches,” Cox said. “He has made comments that churches should be open 24 hours a day.”

Other targeted churches include Crown of Glory Outreach Ministries, Youmans Street’s Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Fort Benning Road’s New Life House of Prayer Ministries and Eighth Street’s Carver Heights Presbyterian Church.

Darrion McCoy, the pastor of Twelve Disciples, is relieved that a suspect is in custody. His church had at least $200 in damage from the rock. “I think it was a great effort,” McCoy said of police. “They moved fast.”

---- Staff Writer Ben Wright contributed to this report.

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