Local News

Couple Arrested in Connection with Church Burglaries

Posted March 21, 1997

— There has been a big break in a rash of church burglaries. The Johnston County Sheriff's department has charged two people with the crimes.

Lavon Ennis, a deacon at Benson Grove Baptist church says he never expected to see the stolen items again, but after a flea market vendor saw WRAL-TV5's story on the break-ins, Ennis says the vendor called.

Investigators say the suspects sold the stolen goods to the vendor. Ralph Beavers, 29, has been arrested and charged in connection with 15 counts of breaking and entering. Cynthia Ward, 29, is charged in connection with 5 of the burglaries. Beavers, according to Johnston County Sheriff Freddy Narron,has an extensive criminal record dating back to 1986.

Merchandise valued at $50,000 was taken from 24 churches since January. About three-quarters of that has been recovered and is being returned to the churches.

Several pastors expressed relief that the items had been recovered, saying they had never expected to see any of it again.

Ennis says members of his church will appreciate having their property returned and, while he credits investigators, he believes a higher force was at work in solving these crimes.

Beavers is being held on a $320,000 bond. Ward's bond is set at $100,000. Investigators say there may be more arrests int he case.

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