New Jersey man charged with vandalizing Catholic churches

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On Wednesday, Curtis Condell, 41, of Magnolia, was arrested during a meeting with authorities, Evesham Township Police Lt. Walt Miller said.

Condell, a drywall worker, has been charged with nine counts of criminal mischief and nine counts of bias intimidation, police said.

He was held on at least $100,000 bail at the Burlington County Jail. That may be increased with the addition of Cherry Hill’s charges, police officials said.

On his Facebook page, Condell described himself as “a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ since my childhood (thank you Dad and Mom!)” and said he was “now working my way toward serving Christ as an evangelist.”

On Thursday, his wife, Belinda, denied that her husband had damaged the statues and said both were devout Christians who have attended Catholic festivals.

“These charges won’t stick,” she said. “He does drywall with his dad but wants to go full-time into evangelism.”

“There is no way he could have done this,” she said. “He gets up early in the morning to work, then he’s with me and our daughter.”

Belinda Condell said her husband was concerned – when he learned that he was considered a suspect – that officers would come to their home and lead him from the house in handcuffs.

“He didn’t want Christianity to look bad,” so he went to police to resolve the issue, she said. “He told them he really didn’t do it.”

Miller declined to identify a motive for the vandalism, adding only that “that is part of the investigation.”

Police got a break after a resident, familiar with the news reports and eyewitness descriptions of the suspect and car, contacted them with information.

The vandalism began in Cherry Hill, where St. Thomas More Church in the 1400 block of Springdale Road was one of the first churches struck, between July 11 and July 12, police said. An eight-foot Italian marble statue of Mary was knocked over and broken in three pieces.

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