The Ashe County Sheriff’s Office has arrested two Lansing citizens and is searching for another for their alleged role in a recent string of church break-ins.
According to Ashe County Sheriff James Williams, officers apprehended 19-year-old David Michael Bennett on Feb. 5 and arrested 21-year-old Marixa Hart Feb. 11 and charged each of them with felonious breaking and entering and larceny. Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for 21-year-old Derrick Carpenter of Lansing on similar charges. All three individuals are believed to be connected in their involvement in the break-ins.
Williams explained that the accused allegedly broke into Peace Haven Church in Lansing and Friendship Baptist Church in Jefferson and stole musical instruments such as guitars and bass guitars along with mixing boards. Authorities have recovered half of the stolen equipment, which is valued at approximately $2,400.
Hart and Bennett were out of jail Friday morning on a $40,000 secured bond. They are scheduled to make their first appearance in court on Thursday.
Williams said that it is unclear whether or not the accused played a role in a rash of break-ins that took place in the second half of 2009. In December 2009, authorities said that five of the eight break-ins had occurred in a span of one week and the series of thefts were said to have stretched over a time period of five months. He said that the investigation is “on-going.”
The list of victimized churches include Friendship Baptist, Peace Haven, Buffalo Baptist Church, Mission Home, Warrensville Seventh Day Adventist, Mt. Paddy, and Long Branch Baptist Church.
Anyone with any information on these or other break-ins are urged to contact the ACSO at (336) 846-5600 or the Ashe County Crime Stoppers at (336) 846-4188.