Three stone statues have been defaced outside a church in upstate New York, according to police reports Thursday.
Damages to the statues at the St. Phillip the Apostle Catholic Church in Cheektowaga, N.Y., are estimated to cost $21,000, and it is unclear whether repairs are possible. The damage is believed to be an act of vandalism by religious fanatics.
The Rev. David J. Borowiak, pastor of St. Phillip, said, “The statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is standing, but the face is chipped off.” Each of the three damaged statues are 5 to 6 feet tall, and only one remains upright.
“The statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is tipped over, and the face is also chipped off,” said Rev. Borowiak said. “The statue of St. Joseph is completely busted.”
Notes from the vandal were found at the church. The handwritten notes contained biblical verses with excerpts about the worship of false idols.
The notes are hoped to provide police with clues as to who is responsible for the crime, according to Cheektowaga Police Captain James Speyer, Jr.
“We’re taking them back to our crime laboratory at the Police Department, and detectives will analyze them,” Speyer told Buffalo News. “Our detectives are trained to lift fingerprints and DNA samples.”
“I would say this is someone who is a fanatic or trying to make it look like a fanatic,” Speyer said. “This is very sad. These statues not only had monetary value, they had sentimental value to many people in the community here.”
Cheektowaga resident Katherine Rogala said that the statues were a part of her childhood.
“As a young girl I would often stop and say a prayer in front of the statues,” she said adding that she hopes the perpetrator(s) “are caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
The Cheektowaga Police Department continues to investigate the crime.