Prowler enters Old Town church
Someone entered the St. Mary’s Catholic Church Old Town chapel, defecated on the floor, lit candles and removed the batteries to a smoke detector sometime overnight Feb. 3, the Park City police say.
Lt. Rick Ryan said the police received a complaint from the church, 121 Park Ave., at 7:53 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 4.
When someone with the church arrived that morning to prepare for a Mass, lights were on and a candle had been lit on a table in the entryway. More burning candles were found on an altar, Ryan said.
Batteries were removed from an upstairs smoke detector, he said, and the police found doors unlocked.
Ryan refused to speculate why the smoke detector was disabled and the candles lit.
"Clearly it’s sending a message to the church from someone who has negative feelings to it," he said.
Ryan said the police expect to interview people with access to the building and he said the investigators hope they can obtain fingerprints from the smoke detector.
"To me, anytime anybody targets a religious organization and causes some damage, or attempted damage, I think it’s a demonstration of hate," Ryan said.
Father Robert Bussen, who leads St. Mary’s, said the church has been victimized by similar incidents for at least 12 years and he said the same person is suspected. He said candles are lit in each instance and the person may be suffering from "religious delusions."
"It’s somebody that seems to be fixated on the chapel," Bussen said.
Bussen said the chapel is typically kept unlocked but church officials must shut it briefly after each incident.
"Every time we have one of these bouts, it means we have to lock the church," Bussen said.
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Park City’s late fire chief Paul Hewitt was remembered for his desire to help others, largeness of spirit and improbable feats during a public memorial Thursday.