2 homeless men charged for allegedly vandalizing Fairmont church


FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Two homeless men were charged for vandalizing a church in Fairmont over the weekend.

On Feb. 15, officers with the Fairmont Police Department received an anonymous complaint of a breaking and entering at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Fairmont, according to a criminal complaint.

When officers arrived on scene, assisted by Marion County Sheriff’s Department deputies, they saw a broken window which someone had shattered at the rear of the church and noticed that the front door was unlocked, officers said.

Johnnie Thorne

Officers entered the church through the front door and found Johnnie Thorne, 38, and John Smith, 55, inside the church, according to the complaint. Both men have their addresses listed as 215 Scott Place — which is a homeless shelter in Fairmont.

On Smith’s person was a red duffel bag, which, officers said, had various items he had stolen from the church. Officers also assessed the damage to the church and found that it was in excess of $2,500, according to the complaint.

Thorne and Smith had torn down a cross which had hung from the ceiling; damaged an organ player; ashed cigarettes on the floor and in church pews; tore down copper railing, taken down light fixtures from the walls; ripped out an entertainment system; destroyed flag poles causing a church flag and an American flag to be left on the floor, officers said.

Damage to Trinity United Methodist
John Smith

Officers found the entertainment system outside of the church, as well as other items Thorne and Smith had attempted to steal, which officers said had a value in excess of $1,000.

Also, in the church’s basement, a candle had been lit and burned all the way down, causing a fire inside of a closet, according to the complaint, and the fire was contained within the closet but damaged tiles and, walls and light fixtures inside of it; officers said that Thorne and Smith lit the candle with the intent to cause a fire in the church.

Thorne and Smith are each charged with breaking and entering; second-degree arson; grand larceny; and destruction of property. They are being held in North Central Regional Jail on $80,012 bond each.

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