Crime spree targets multiple churches

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

Rhonda Hampton, pastor at Wings of Victory Church in Corbin, was alarmed to find her church's front door smashed.

"It appeared to be just a rock thrown through the front door, but it had been pried open," described Hampton of the church's front door.

The same shock was likely felt at three other churches around Laurel County. Parkway Praise Church, Laurel Chapel Church, and Hawk Creek Church all reported similar signs of burglary.

"We are examining the possibility that they are related," explained Deputy Gilbert Acciardo of the Laurel County Sheriff's Department.

That's not all there is to this case, Deputy Acciardo says neighboring Knox County said they had three church break-ins also.

"It definitely has to be an odd coincidence that seven churches were broken into overnight," countered Deputy Acciardo when asked about the likely connection.

The burglaries had quite the effect, too. Wings of Victory was forced to cancel their services because of the damage left behind. While this church was spared from any theft, others churches could not say the same.

Hawk Creek Church, one of the hardest hit churches, lost several thousand dollars in equipment, but they say that didn't stop them from celebrating this Sunday. Everything from sound boards, light boards, and cameras to four guitars and a keyboard were taken.

"Sometimes things like this can be frustrating, but for us it was actually one of the best days in the life of our church," said Daniel Carmack, Worship Pastor at Hawk Creek.

Investigators did find one twist, behind Hawk Creek they found three items that did not belong to the church, a small suit of armor, a popcorn machine, and a generator. Deputy Acciardo says it's likely these items were left behind from a different break in.

"It's possible that the suspects had so much property in their vehicle that these were items that they decided they didn't need," figured Dep. Acciardo.

Even after these crimes affected these churches, many of them share the same message. They say they want to set aside any anger and focus on the people behind the crime.

"We want to love them, love God, and move on," said Carmack.

In the meantime, investigators are continuing to search for leads that may connect the crimes and provide suspects. They say they will continue to work with Knox County to see if these cases are connected.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Laurel County Sheriff's Office at 606-864-6600, or the London City Police at 606-878-7004. They can remain anonymous.

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