It was a perplexing mystery for congregants of Christ Gospel Church in Kentucky. They couldn't understand why their money suddenly went missing after they knelt down to pray.
"We had one or two people make a comment to the deacons, they felt they'd been missing some money. Like, they came with $60 and now they have $20, or none," Stephen Manecke, the church's CFO, explained in a WHAS 11 report.
And that's when church deacons were put on high alert and decided that they would literally start watching while the congregation prayed. The decision proved fruitful and they quickly fingered Andrea Washburn, 39, as the force behind the missing money.
Clark County, Ky., prosecutor Jeremy Mull admits that while crimes against churches are not unusual, when Washburn decided to pick the pockets of the congregants of Christ Gospel, it was a new low for him.
She is now facing four counts of theft and another four for attempted theft, and blames her actions on a drug habit.
"It's not unusual for a church to be victimized by crime. We have a lot of people who burglarize churches who steal air conditioning units…," said Mull, trying to make sense of Washburn's new low of committing a crime during a worship service.
"When members of the church would go forward to pray, she would take that opportunity to look down at any purses or valuable items anyone left in the seating area and go through and steal items of value from them," Mull said.
Police said Washburn took cash and credit cards and pilfered a total of $400 in cash to feed her drug habit. She also took prescription drugs from purses at times.
"When the members of the church were praying to God, she was preying on them," said Mull.