Lauderdale County, Miss. A Lauderdale County church was heavily damaged by vandals sometime during the past couple of days.
The damage at St. John Missionary Baptist Church located off Highway 45 north of Meridian near Cotton Gin Road was discovered Friday morning by someone coming in the clean the building.
The entire building had been ransacked and practically every room had damage. File strewn, oil all over the floor and equipment either gone or moved outside the building.
The church hadn't been used since Tuesday night, so some of the expensive equipment could have been out in the elements for days.
Church members are obviously and understandably distressed.
"Anybody that takes something that doesn't belong to them, it needs to be dealt with accordingly," Said church member Beverly Young. "Everybody works hard for whatever they have, and it's not fair for somebody to come in and destroy it or take it, especially in a church."
Investigators say computers and electrical equipment were either taken or moved around. They believe someone might have either been trying to steal items to outfit a house or to sell.
"It looks like the suspects, once they gained entry, they just roamed the entire building, going through cabinets, started taking things out of here, from kitchen utensils to sinks," said Maj. Casey McElhenney. "Literally tore them away from the wall. Destroyed everything as they went."
Sheriff's deputies spent Friday morning processing the scene and talking to church members. They'll take their evidence to the crime lab in hopes they'll be able to get some clues there but did not immediately have solid leads on the culprits.
Church members have a lot of work to do to get ready for Sunday, but they say they will not let what has happened bring them down.
"We're St. John Missionary Baptist Church of Marion, and we keep moving. Nothing breaks our spirit," said Young. "We worship the Lord here. The Lord is our Savior and that's Who we look for, and we know He'll take care of us."
If you have any information about this case, you may report it to Crimestoppers at 601-485-1860.