Graduate charged with ransacking Christian school

| July 2, 2010

ANDERSON, Ind. — A recent graduate of Indiana Christian Academy has been charged with multiple felonies connected to a break-in and ransacking of the school a week ago.

Kevin D. Gaither, 18, of the 5800 block of North Carriage Lane, Alexandria, was arrested earlier this week and faces two Class B felony charges of burglary and Class D felony counts of theft and criminal mischief. He was held on $20,000 bond in the Madison County Jail on Thursday, awaiting an appearance in video court at 11 a.m. Friday.

School workers arrived on the morning of Friday, June 25, to find smashed computer keyboards and monitors, shattered glass, toppled bookshelves and ruined trophy cases. Vandals had touched nearly every corner of the school the night before.

“It was definitely devastating just to view the extent of the damage,” academy administrator Kevin Plew said Thursday.

Madison County Sheriff Ron Richardson said Gaither was jailed earlier this week after questioning. Richardson said more arrests could be made in connection with the break-in and vandalism as the investigation continues. Grace Baptist Church next door also was broken into, Richardson said, but there were no signs of vandalism or theft there.

“After canvassing the area of the school building and the church, it was found that 14 different classrooms, the main office, two smaller offices, the cafeteria and the school kitchen sustained extensive vandalism, and there was $400 missing from the school,” Richardson said. “Estimated damage to the school could go as high as $95,000.”

Richardson said Gaither had not been cooperative in the investigation. He said Gaither became a suspect after deputies talked with academy staff members to develop a list of potential suspects.

“There were a few things that kind of led to him as a suspect,” Plew said. He said Gaither had made disparaging comments about the school during the course of the past academic year.

“He had demonstrated some anger issues with certain teachers, and particularly those (teachers’ classrooms) were hit hardest” by vandalism, Plew said. He said investigators also found a pair of glasses in the debris that school personnel believe to be Gaither’s.

Plew said school officials believed early on that a former student or students were suspects. “We did not use all the classrooms this year. They knew that,” Plew said. “They had gone to the classrooms that were used.”

With school starting on Aug. 23, Plew said, “We should be up and running well before then.

“It should not affect the start of school at all,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to do between now and then and we already have a lot of cleanup crews working. They’re working under the deadline of school beginning and they feel like they can have it done by then.”

Plew said that after the vandalism came to light, the school community rallied. “We’ve had a lot of phone calls and text messages from people saying we’re very sorry this happened and we’re praying, and anything we can do to help,” he said.

“I’ve probably had a dozen older students call me to say ‘what can I do to help?’ They’re willing to just jump in.”

Plew said school officials “are in prayer for the family and Kevin as well. We’re not holding any malice toward him.”

School at a glance

What: Indiana Christian Academy, a pre-K-grade 12 private school.

Where: 432 W. 300N (Hartman Road), Anderson.

Contact: People interested in helping with the cleanup can call the school at 643-7884.

 

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