Two arrested in Sumter County church arson, break-ins - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Two arrested in Sumter County church arson, break-ins

July 17, 2007

Americus -- It is a crime that could easily be described as despicable. Guitars, drums, video equipment; all church property confiscated from one of the suspects investigators believe is behind a string of church robberies and vandalisms in Americus and Sumter County.

In all, five churches were involved. "We started an investigation looking into these different churches in conjunction to those that were broken into in the city," said Sumter County Sheriff Pete Smith.

Americus Police and Sumter County deputies got information that lead them to 18-year-old David Counts of Sumter County. He was caught in the act of breaking into a church in Houston County.

 "Houston County had some arrests so we followed up on Houston and made some arrests," says Americus Police Chief James Green.

Counts and a 15-year-old are charged in the crimes. "Specifically dealing with the juvenile, we did find paraphernalia and written material dealing with satanic worship and the occult," said Green.

They confiscated satanic art, and symbols such as pentagrams. Notebooks containing hate literature were also taken, along with a pair of jeans containing dark writings and possible stolen church belongings.

The July 11 break-ins occurred at the United Methodist Church, Calvary Church, Central Baptist Church, and the Cornerstone Church. A break-in was also reported at Old Central Baptist Church, which is now a DEFACS office, along with the arson at St. Mary's Church.

Sheriff Smith adds,"We're confident in the investigation and the way it's going. We believe that one or two more arrests may be made."

Authorities in Sumter County and Americus were assisted by the GBI and State Department of Human Resources.

Counts also faces additional burglary charges in Houston County. He remains in Houston County jail without bond.

With more arrests pending, authorities are working hard to ensure the 46 churches in Sumter County are safe and secure.

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