Priest comes face-to-face with Sulphur vandalism suspect

Published: Dec. 16, 2012 at 9:28 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 15, 2013 at 9:28 PM CST
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After Saturday's church vandalism in Sulphur, church services went on as planned Sunday morning without many of the statues normally seen.

SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - "I was in my room, and I heard noise," said Father Larry Kohler of Our Lady of LaSalette Catholic Church. "I came running out."

That's when Father Kohler came face-to-face with Daniel Duplechin, the suspect in the case,  outside of the church on Saturday.

"I was trying to calm him down," said Father Kohler. " 'Dan, take it easy.' But he wasn't listening."

Duplechin attended Our Lady of LaSalette periodically, including his most recent visit last Friday. But on Saturday, police say Duplechin damaged four churches, including his own.

"There was a man in the prayer chapel when he came in the first time with a sledge hammer, and he was afraid for his life," said Father Kohler.

A crucifix, over 50 years old, once hung on the wall, now shattered into pieces. And broken stained glass marks an entry point for the suspect. But Father Kohler says he's thankful only items were damaged.

"It's shattering because you're not dealing with sanity," said Father Kohler. "This for me was the thing, is that he hurt no one as far as I know. It was all property."

Severe damage also happened at Our Lady of Prompt Succor.

"Just heart wrenching, because a lot of these statues have been around since I was a little girl, they were here," said parishioner Ruby O'Neal.

But now they're gone.

"The emptiness that will be there," said O'Neal. "The warmth is going to be gone. And I know it's just material things, but they bring us peace when we would see them. They won't be there anymore."

While the damage is significant, both churches are focused on the future.

"We are going to try to get back to normal as soon as possible," said Father Kohler.

"We do have to realize that these are only material things," said O'Neal. "Material things can be replaced. Not to let it shake our faith, in humanity either. We'll move forward, we will. It will not shake our faith."

The prayer chapel at Our Lady of LaSalette will remained closed until Friday, when the Bishop will come and bless it again.

Duplechin is also being held responsible for vandalizing Henning United Methodist Church and First Baptist Church.

Both received broken windows.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.