Aztec police identify suspect in church vandalism
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AZTEC, N.M. – A paint splattered church entrance, a burned grotto and statue and the word “evil” written on the building. All these acts of vandalism were done at St Joseph’s church in Aztec. The first one took place in September.
Police said 57-year-old Jeffrey Schoeller is responsible after surveillance video showed him at a nearby gas station, on the same day the word “evil” was written on the side of the church. Police released the video to the public last week.
“Once the video was released, we just got a bunch of help from the community that helped quickly identify the individual and we were able to make contact with them the same day and get a statement from him as well,” said Detective Sgt. Heather Knibbs with Aztec Police.
Church cameras also captured Schoeller in the act of writing the word before walking to the gas station and driving off. But police said this is not the first time that he has vandalized a church property.
“Last week we also found another “evil” painted on the Church of Christ located at Hartman here in Aztec as well,” said Knibbs.
Schoeller is facing two felony counts of desecration of a church, one felony count of arson and one misdemeanor count of desecration of a church. An arrest warrant was also issued yesterday.