Suspect charged after vandalizing church's graveyard - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Suspect charged after vandalizing church's graveyard

William Thornton is charged with criminal damage to property William Thornton is charged with criminal damage to property
Thornton admits to driving his truck through graveyard Thornton admits to driving his truck through graveyard
Decatur County Sheriff's Office Captain Gale Bowyer Decatur County Sheriff's Office Captain Gale Bowyer
DECATUR CO., GA (WALB) - A Grady County man has been charged with vandalizing a church graveyard in Decatur County.

You can still see tire marks and rubble left behind, after a truck was driven through the Salem Indpendent Baptist Church graveyard Saturday night. 

Dollie Harrison has family members buried at the graveyard.  Harrison said, “You just don't know why something like this would happen.  They're at rest, why mess with them?”

The Decatur County Sheriff's Office said the driver of that truck is 20-year-old William Andrew Thornton.

Captain Gale Bowyer  said he got a call from the church late Sunday evening about damage to multiple graves and headstones.  

Captain Bowyer said, “It's kind of a sad day when we get involved in damage and vandalism.  Someone obviously shows no respect for the dead.”

He said damage left behind on the scene and tips from the community helped lead investigators to the suspect.

Investigators said the damage to Thornton's truck was consistent with running over concrete headstones and that Thornton confessed when he was questioned about the incident on Tuesday.

He was arrested on criminal damage to property and failure to report an accident with property damage charges on Thursday.

Bowyer said, “He said it was accidental and he lost control of the vehicle and went through the cemetery and did the damage.”

You can see by the tuck's dents and missing tire just how destructive the accident was. 

Thornton admits to putting damaged car parts in the bed of his truck after driving away from the accident. 

Bowyer said, “The church is about forgiveness and maybe the victims will be too.”

William Thornton is out of jail on bond.


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