FREDERICKTOWN—Holy Trinity Catholic Church sustained significant damages Thursday when vandals allegedly broke in and partly shattered a window above the main sanctuary.
It’s the seventh time in as many months the church has been vandalized.
According to reports filed with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, someone entered the building between noon and 2 p.m. on Feb. 28 and threw a brass object through a 4x8-feet plate glass window of an upstairs nursery.
The object partly shattered the glass. It appears to have been thrown from the lower-level sanctuary, reports indicate.
Photos show the extent of the damages, which officials have yet to determine.
“We don’t have any leads, but we have beefed up patrols in the area,” said Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Melissa Knopp. “Anytime we go to the ‘Burg, we patrol the church. But we can sit there for four hours, then we can leave for 10 minutes and something may happen.”
A cleaner reportedly left the building at 306 Fredericktown Road at noon on Feb. 28, Knopp said. The damage was discovered by another individual who entered the church around 2 p.m.
“So it was a narrow time frame,” Knopp said.
Deputies believe the vandalism is calculated and targeted. No vandalism has been reported at other churches in the county nor at other sites in the Fredericktown community.
“It’s senseless and it’s just heart breaking,” said Knopp, who was married at the church. “I’m sinfully angry about it.”
The church remained locked on Friday. A handwritten sign on the rear entrance said: “Church locked till further notice by request of Sheriff’s Dept. Do not enter.”
Reports of similar incidents were first filed at the church on Aug. 7, 2012, when someone allegedly threw a rock through a stained glass window at Holy Trinity, breaking three sections of it, according to the initial incident reports. Damages were estimated between $8,000-$10,000.
On Aug. 16, vandals allegedly entered the church property at night and again threw rocks through a stained glass window, reports show.
Damage was again reported on Sept. 5 when two more windows at the church were damaged. One was hit with an object and cracked. Another was completely shattered, records show.
On Sept. 7, a vandal threw a rock through the top part of an already-broken window. People came to decorate the church for a wedding and found the glass and rock inside the church.
On Sept. 15, the church sustained additional damage, records show.
“The other incidents generally happened to the outside of the church,” Knopp said. “This is the first time its happened to the inside of the sanctuary.” Anyone with information can contact the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at 336-5400.