Man charged with stealing weekly church offering

| March 6, 2010

ELIZABETHTON — A man charged with stealing the weekly offering at Lynn Valley Baptist Church has waived his right to a preliminary hearing and was bound over to a Carter County grand jury Friday.

Cody Bowling, 23, 267 Blevins Hollow Road, was also bound over on several other burglaries, some of them in his Blevins Hollow neighborhood and one going back to 2007.

Bowling is accused of taking $3,419 in cash and checks from the Jan. 10 offering of the Lynn Valley congregation. The burglary was discovered Jan. 11. Two laptop computers were also stolen. Five doors and a safe were also damaged in the burglary.

Bowling was arrested Jan. 12 when Sgt. Brian Durham and Deputy Dean Jones of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department responded to another church burglary in progress, this one at Dungan Chapel Baptist Church. When the deputies responded, they found a blue Suzuki car in the church parking lot.

The officers entered the church through an open door and found several rooms had been ransacked. Jones found a door that was locked from the other side and that had no keyhole. He ordered anyone in the locked room to come out. They said Bowling then opened the door and came out.

A pair of bolt cutters and a pry bar were found in the room, police said. Bowling was arrested and his car was inventoried. During the inventory, the officers found a pill and some drug paraphernalia, including a syringe. A Verizon/Visa $50 rebate card assigned to Kelly Salinas was found in the console. Salinas, a resident of Blevins Hollow, reported the burglary of her residence Dec. 7. She said a file was taken that included the rebate card. She said a Peavey amplifier had also been stolen. The officers said they found the amplifier in the trunk of Bowling’s car.

Also found in the car was a Kodak camera, which was identified as being stolen in one of three New Year’s Eve burglaries committed two weeks earlier at an apartment building at 1294 Bluefield Ave.

On Jan. 14, Capt. Rocky Croy and Investigator Jan Black of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department interviewed Bowling. They reported he confessed to the Lynn Valley Baptist burglary and gave consent to search his residence.

The investigators reported the search uncovered evidence from several other burglaries, including several in the Blevins Hollow area, the Bluefield Avenue burglaries and one burglary that goes back to March 27, 2007.

The evidence from the 2007 burglary was a black Sentry safe that had been reported stolen from the residence of Ruth Lewis on Dan Berry Hill Road. The safe still had Lewis’ name on it and a box inside that had her phone number. An investigator called the number and when Lewis answered, he identified himself and asked her if she had been the victim of any burglaries. She told him she had a small safe, cash and checks and two rings stolen.

Investigators also found a BB&T bank bag full of receipts that belonged to Rizk Baltaji and contained the name Rico’s Pizza, which is near Blevins Hollow and was hit by a burglar Nov. 8.

Evidence from another Nov. 8 burglary was also found at Bowling’s home. A bottle of prescription medicine had the name of a victim at 295 Blevins Hollow Road. Also found were three boxes of insulin syringes and a gas can with a unique tap. The gas can had been taken from 295 Blevins Hollow Road during an earlier burglary Sept. 28.

Items not recovered from the burglaries included several guns, a 32-inch flat screen Panasonic television and $6,700 in cash.

Elizabethton investigators said they learned that a PlayStation 3 game console taken from one of the Bluefield Avenue burglaries had been sold by Bowling at New Trade, 1342 Milligan Highway.

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Category: Church Security

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