Was Church Vandalism The Act of a Religious Fanatic?

September 8, 2011 Updated Sep 8, 2011 at 8:22 PM EDT

By Kyla Igoe

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September 8, 2011 Updated Sep 8, 2011 at 8:22 PM EDT


Summary:Cheektowaga,NY (WKBW)- Vandals struck St. Philip the Apostle Church in Cheektowaga sometime before 6:30 a.m. Thursday. The pastor of the church, Father David Borowiak, discovered 3 statues severely damaged. Cheektowaga Police say what makes this case unusual is the fact that the culprits left behind handwritten biblical verses citing quotes about false idols and gods. Detectives believe the vandals specifically targeted these statues, which originated from an old orphanage on William Street.

"Either they're a fanatic or they want us to believe they are a fanatic," said Cheektowaga Police Captain James Speyer. "Because it doesn't appear to be just kids going through the neighborhood."

A statue of St. Joseph, which is located directly in front of the church, was completely destroyed. A statue of the Sacred Heart was tipped over and defaced. The vandals also chipped away the face of a Virgin Mary statue.

"I don't care if you're Catholic or not. It's just not the right thing to do," said Parishioner Ray Wichlacz. "You might be angry with us, you might not believe what we say or do, but don't destroy our property."

The handwritten notes are now evidence in the case. Police are hoping the notes will lead police to the vandals. Reverend Borowiak says it's unclear if any of the statues can be restored. The average rate to buy statues are $7,000. Total damage is estimated at $21,000. Detectives are asking that anyone with information on this case to call: 716-686-3979.