Vandals smash Virgin Mary statues outside Halethorpe church

HALETHORPE, Md. - For the better part of 50 years a statue of the Blessed Mother stood watch over the school building across from the Church of the Ascension in Halethorpe.  Today she sits on the ground below her pedestal, scattered in pieces.  Father John Williamson was stunned to see it, saying, "It's discouraging and disheartening."

The local symbol, which has held its spot in front of the school since its construction in 1960, was shattered by vandals police say who struck in the middle of the night.  Deanna Milnor, who lives near the church, says, "I just heard a smash.  It sounded like someone was throwing something in the dumpster."

Instead it was the statue of the Virgin Mary being knocked from her post.  She had been cemented to the base, so Williamson believes it took a decent level of effort to remove the statue. 

The three-foot statue was destroyed overnight along with a plaque that hung near the building's entrance and a smaller statue that sat in a nearby garden.  Williamson says replacing the statues could cost the parish a few thousand dollars. 

But to people who attend the church and once attended the school, you can't put a dollar amount on the statue.  Milnor says, "It's a place where people who belong to the church sometimes go and it has a certain energy about it.  That's the best way i could put it." 

Neighbors believe the vandals may be children considering Milnor heard kids laughing immediately following that loud noise.  The church would like to find the person responsible, but Williamson says they're more than ready to forgive, "It is about forgiveness and they're statues at the end of the day.  They are replaceable.  I'd like the person just to recognize that there are feelings and peoples' faith is tied up in all this.  They've hurt people."

The building did have a surveillance camera, but Williamson says it didn't catch anything.  The church says this incident will have them upgrading their system.  Baltimore County police are investigating.  If a suspect is found they could be charged with destruction of property.

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