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Examiner
  • Independence church seeks help finding vandals

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  • The congregation of The Stone Church in Independence wants answers as to why people would desecrate a stone garden that consisted of a variety of both donated and handcrafted angel sculptures.
    “It was a pretty big mess to clean up,” said Alecia Cripps, the church's financial officer. “We have no idea why someone would do this.”
    Around 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 27, Cripps and church member Jeanne Rider say, a pedestrian was walking a dog along Bowen Street and heard loud noises originating from Stone Church’s west entrance. The pedestrian later witnessed an unknown number of people smashing the angel sculptures "to smithereens," Cripps said.
    “They (vandals) were hitting the angels with so much force,” Cripps said, “that pieces of them flew out onto the drive.”
    She said the witness was not able to make out descriptions of the vandals because it was too dark.
    “But once they saw the dog walker, they drove off in a whitish van or SUV,” Cripps added
    Cripps and Rider said the angel stone garden that is atop a 4-foot stone wall and adjacent to the church’s west side entrance was a Boy Scout troop project completed last spring for them to earn merit badges.
    “They are the oldest troop west of the Mississippi (River),” Cripps said.
    She also said church and community members donated a variety of nearly 20 angel sculptures for the garden project, and a number of them were donated by The Angel Lady, a merchant located near the Independence Square.
    The Scouts designed the layout and planted the assortment of ceramic, concrete and polymer angels with rebar, Cripps said. The sculptures had a variety of sizes as well, ranging from 6 inches to a couple feet in height.
    “Some of these (angels) could not be removed with just bare hands and strength,” Cripps said. “I think a bat or another kind of weapon was used to smash them. Whatever they hit them with had to be powerful.”
    The following morning at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 28, Cripps arrived at the church and was met with a considerable amount of debris scattered throughout the west side driveway. She said it took quite a while to clean up.
    Cripps filed a report with police that morning. No individuals have been connected to the vandalism so far, Independence Police Public Information Officer Tom Gentry said. Cripps said nothing else was damaged on the church, only the 12 angel sculptures.
    “These things are really tough,” Gentry said. “In these kinds of situations, we look at people who have vandalized in the past. It could be people from Kansas City just goofing off. Unless there is a witness or a surveillance camera on the premises, we can only wait until someone comes forward.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The Stone Church does not have a surveillance camera.
    Cripps said the congregation is in shock as to why this happened and are baffled considering how they recently helped the community.
    “We provided dinners, donated to the Community Services League and helped out with youth programs,” she said. "The congregation is still in disbelief."
    Now only two angels remain standing. Cripps said the fate of the vandalized garden is undecided.
    Independence Police are asking anyone with information about the vandalism to contact them at 816-325-7300 or the TIPS Hotline 816-474-TIPS (8477).
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