Memorial pillars at a Baptist church in Centennial were destroyed earlier this month and investigators with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office are asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspect.
The pair of brick pillars, at the Smoky Hill Baptist Church, 19315 E. Smoky Hill Road, contained names and ashes of parishioners. Investigators suspect the memorial was destroyed by someone driving a vehicle and that the vandalism happened between Aug. 4 and 7, according to the sheriff’s office.
Can you help us? The ACSO is asking anyone who saw an unknown vehicle drive into a brick memorial at Smoky Hill Baptist Church to call us. The pillars contained the names and ashes of the deceased. If you can help, call our investigator at 720-874-3813 or firstname.lastname@example.org. pic.twitter.com/QZjIIYNjX3
— Arapahoe Sheriff (@ArapahoeSO) August 20, 2019
The pillars contained three plastic urns, with the ashes of three parishioners, said Bobby Brown, chairman of the board of trustees for the church.
Brown, who was the first person to discover the destruction, estimates the monetary damage between $10,000 and $20,000. The church is planning to restore the memorial, including interment of the ashes.
“We were kind of surprised going through the debris to find the ashes still in tact,” Brown said. “There were three distinct urns in there. The plastic boxes (urns) were slightly damaged; the plastic bags, with ashes, were intact.”
Brown said church staff and members aren’t aware of anyone who would deliberately seek to damage the church.
“We ourselves don’t know who did it, no one is angry with the church or something like that,” Brown said. “I think it was a careless driver who did this, someone who didn’t stop and do the right thing,” and take responsibility.
The church, and the memorial, sit far back off of East Smoky Hill Road and South Danube Street. So far, no witnesses have been found and investigators are asking for the public’s help.
“I’m super sad for the church and the families, I’m begging for someone to come forward,” said Tara Young, of the sheriff’s office.
Young suspects the damage was done by a larger vehicle, a pickup truck or SUV. No vehicle parts were left behind.
Anyone with information on the incident, or on a suspect, is asked to call Young at 720-874-3813, or send an email to email@example.com.