Arrest made in vandalism at Catholic churches in New Jersey

Curtis Condell was arrestedin a meeting with authorities.

A vandal cut a destructive path across Camden and Burlington Counties over several days in July, heavily damaging dozens of religious statues at several Catholic churches.

Many pieces in Cherry Hill, Marlton, and Mount Laurel were knocked over or struck with an object, possibly a baseball bat, police said.

Then, the vandalism stopped abruptly after reports included eyewitness descriptions of a suspect and a car at a Marlton church.

On Wednesday, Curtis Condell, 41, of Magnolia, was arrested during a meeting with authorities, Evesham Township Police Lt. Walt Miller said.

Condell, a drywall worker, has been charged with nine counts of criminal mischief and nine counts of bias intimidation, police said.

He was held on at least $100,000 bail at the Burlington County Jail. That may be increased with the addition of Cherry Hill’s charges, police officials said.

On his Facebook page, Condell described himself as “a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ since my childhood (thank you Dad and Mom!)” and said he was “now working my way toward serving Christ as an evangelist.”

On Thursday, his wife, Belinda, denied that her husband had damaged the statues and said both were devout Christians who have attended Catholic festivals.

“These charges won’t stick,” she said. “He does drywall with his dad but wants to go full-time into evangelism.”

“There is no way he could have done this,” she said. “He gets up early in the morning to work, then he’s with me and our daughter.”

Belinda Condell said her husband was concerned – when he learned that he was considered a suspect – that officers would come to their home and lead him from the house in handcuffs.

“He didn’t want Christianity to look bad,” so he went to police to resolve the issue, she said. “He told them he really didn’t do it.” [more]


Philadelphia Inquirer