Local News

Arrest made in vandalism of Chatham County church

Posted June 24, 2010

— Chatham County deputies have made an arrest in the vandalism of a Chapel Hill church on June 4. 

Satanic and obscene messages were sprayed on the walls at the Lighthouse Baptist Church, at 12063 U.S. Highway 15/501. Hymn books were destroyed and windows were broken during the overnight break-in. Two American flags were also stolen.

Joseph Marshall Polinger, 19, of 28-A Woodbridge Drive in Chapel Hill, turned himself in to authorities after returning some of the stolen property on Wednesday afternoon, Chatham County deputies said.

Authorities said Polinger admitted to the crime and implicated an accomplice, who is being sought. His name was not released.

Polinger is charged with felonious breaking and entering a place of worship, felonious larceny, felonious possession of stolen goods and injury to real property. He was released on a $25,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Chatham County District Court in Pittsboro on July 26.

Polinger’s residence is located in a neighborhood just behind the church. It is still unclear what motivated the two men to commit the crime.

Deputies said they have recovered a large wooden cross that hung above the pulpit and electronic equipment that was stolen during the break-in.

Investigators with the Chatham County Sheriff's Office said the vandalism met the criteria for a hate crime.

Mark Hall, pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church, said earlier the church's insurance company told him it will cover all the damages, and gifts to the church have already met the deductible.


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  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount Jun 24, 2010

    I wish someone could define "hate crime" as opposed to... say.... a "friendship crime".

  • Hans Jun 24, 2010

    "I say chop them arms off so next time when he thinks of messing up the Lord's House he will surely remember it........"

    I'm sure Christ would agree.

  • mamabearprotectinghercub Jun 24, 2010

    I bet there was more than just him with all that damage that was done. I hope that he gets serious charges, & I would like to know why he done it?

  • VT1994Hokie Jun 24, 2010

    He has some mental issues. I hope that he will get some help. Glad he doesn't live near me. Praying for him.

  • ghimmy51 Jun 24, 2010

    I believe godnessgracious is saying the proper places of worship are inside, outside, on your knees and in your heart. He is with us always.

  • keneds Jun 24, 2010

    ok im glad to hear that godnessgracious..i didnt know what you ment by your first post...i see now we are on the same page.

  • godnessgracious Jun 24, 2010

    @keneds God is in charge of even this

  • itsmyownopinion Jun 24, 2010

    Obviously what they did was wrong, morally and criminally, but some of the comments show a lack of understanding of faith and Christianity, so please tell us, do you folks call yourselves Christians? I agree with keneds, let God handle this.

  • keneds Jun 24, 2010

    godnessgracious....are you saying God is not in charge of this

  • pmck Jun 24, 2010

    How sad that anyone would desecrate a place of worship - no matter the religion or denomination. It's sad that so many folks lack the ability to respect other people's property - but a place of worship? You can only pray that something good comes out of this.