Church vandalism arrest made

| March 5, 2010

A Hartwell man suspected of vandalizing an Ila church last month and kidnapping a woman was arrested Wednesday in Hart County, according to Madison County sheriff's investigator Pat Holl.

Carey Durrett, 71, is charged with burglary, damage to property and vandalism to a place of worship. He remained in jail without bond Thursday.

Durrett also is suspected of abducting a female church member before he broke into Lighthouse Tabernacle on Hill Street in Ila, according to sheriff's reports.

Durrett allegedly lured her into his car at her home, then drove the woman to Hart County and later into South Carolina. She escaped when Durrett got out of his car in a rural area of Anderson County to speak to another person, according to Holl.

The sheriff's office has not yet filed any charges in connection with the abduction, Holl said.

The vandal used a crowbar to destroy the church piano, sound system, furniture, flower arrangements, pulpit and a painting of the Last Supper, said Larry Scoggins, a deacon at the church.

Eleven days after the crime, Durrett telephoned him and confessed to the damage, but did not offer an explanation, Scoggins said.

Durrett told Holl that "he wanted to see about getting the interior of the church remodeled," the investigator said.

Durrett also expressed some dissatisfaction with the leadership of the church, pointing out that all of its members were black before the church moved in 1994, Holl said.

Durrett, who is black, said he wanted to attract more black parishioners into the congregation, which follows the teachings of the Rev. William Branham, an evangelist who died in 1965 but is believed by his followers to be a prophet from God.

Scoggins was surprised at Durrett's actions, he said.

"He's been coming here about four years, and I've been knowing him 30-something years," Scoggins said.

Some members of the church did not attend services while authorities were looking for the suspect, according to Scoggins.

"They thought he might come back postal," Scoggins said.

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Category: Church Security

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