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31-year-old Arkansas man arrested after hammering open an altar at a preparatory school church, police say

By Emma Tucker, CNN

A 31-year-old man has been arrested after he allegedly broke into a church in Arkansas, hammered open an altar and stole two relic boxes that were embedded in the altar, officials said.

The incident took place between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Thursday at the Subiaco Abbey church in Subiaco, part of the Subiaco Academy all-male preparatory school, which was shut down “out of an abundance of caution” while the investigation was ongoing, church officials said in a news release.

A deputy with the Logan County Sheriff’s Office were called to the scene when church officials said a person entered the church and used a hammer to damage the altar, the sheriff’s office said, but the suspect had already left at that point. The deputy interviewed witnesses, handed out statements and took photos of the damage as part of his investigation into the incident before the suspect returned to the church and officials notified police, according to a news release from the office.

Deputies then arrested the suspect, and found his car at the scene, where they located “tools in the truck that had marble dust on them,” police said. They also located an item in Farnam’s truck that was stolen from a nearby vacant house, before seizing and towing the truck, the office said.

“The altar is a very large piece of marble that was imported from Italy and had two reliquaries (small brass-colored boxes) embedded in the altar. Each relic box contained three relics from saints from over 1500 years ago. Both boxes were missing,” the Logan County Sheriff’s Office said. “The altar itself had a very large hole in the middle of the slab that went all of the way through the altar and the altar had large cracks and chips.”

Farnam is being held at the Logan County Detention Center on “anticipated” charges of theft of property, criminal mischief in the first degree, residential burglary, breaking or entering and public intoxication, the sheriff’s office said. The investigation is still ongoing.

“By piecing together the testimony from multiple witness who had seen a strange man on campus earlier, we were fairly confident that we had seen him previously in our Church,” church officials said.

“Throughout this, our monks continued with our regularly communal prayers. Now that the gentleman has been caught and justice will proceed, may we also offer a prayer for him,” their statement continued.

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