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Flag and Bible urinated on in Berkeley County church burglary

May 28, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Officials at Johnsontown Bible Church spent Tuesday cleaning up the house of worship near Hedgesville, W.Va., where police say about $3,000 in property was destroyed in a Memorial Day burglary.

West Virginia State Police trooper M.D. Gillmore said he found an American flag placed on a Bible, with urine on both, inside the church at 68 Camp Frame Road, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Dalton Fred Banker, 20, was in Eastern Regional Jail on Tuesday, facing felony charges of burglary, grand larceny, destruction of property, three felony counts of conspiracy and a misdemeanor count of obstruction of an officer in the incident, according to court records.

A juvenile petition was filed against Banker's 17-year-old girlfriend for her alleged involvement in the burglary, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely's office confirmed Tuesday.

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In a detention and preliminary hearing for the girl, Magistrate Jim Humphrey on Tuesday set a $5,000 bond "over the state's objection," according to Games-Neely's office.

The girl's father contacted one of the church pastors Monday morning and told him that his daughter and her boyfriend arrived at his home about 3 a.m. in a blue Johnsontown Bible Church van, according to Gillmore's complaint against Banker.

Gillmore said in the complaint that a side window at the church was broken, seven doors were "kicked in" and their frames were damaged, several vases were damaged or shattered and three offices were ransacked - tables overturned, drawers pulled out and items broken.

In the front of the church sanctuary, police found the Bible and the flag.

Banker's girlfriend told police that Banker suggested they steal from the church, a plan she said they concluded was "a good idea," according to Gillmore's complaint.

They planned to pawn about $25,000 in church property, including computers, speakers and a paper shredder, Gillmore said in his complaint.

Banker, of 8278 Tuscarora Pike near Martinsburg, was arrested about 10:30 a.m. at French's store on Hedgesville Road, but he didn't go quietly, police said.

Gillmore said the defendant threatened him and attempted to kick his feet while on the ground, according to the trooper.

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