OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – A man is facing multiple charges including burglary and arson after breaking into a church in Ogden and attempting to set the place on fire.
According to a probable cause statement on March 18 around 8:24 p.m., officers responded to a report of a disturbance in the area of 3000 Wall Ave.
A witness told police that the suspect, identified as 23-year-old Caleb Papaa Stanley, broke into the church through a window of the women’s restroom.
Once inside, police say Stanley vandalized the church, spray painting the word “God” on the floor and spray painting the letter S on the west side of the Sanctuary.
“There was a large black dot underneath the word with the spray paint can sitting in
the middle of the dot. Just under the dot, a sideways eight was sprayed in the same black paint. The spray paint was still wet to the touch,” the probable cause statement shares.
Officials go on to say Stanley then painted a five-pointed star within a circle on the floor, and draped gold silk fabric over the symbol, and “covered it in liquid”.
According to arresting documents, an open bible laid next to the symbol.
“The center pages of the Bible had been torn out and burned. Charred fragments of the Bible were scattered over the floor and led into the nave,” officials include.
Officers say Stanley had managed to douse the majority of the church with a “water-based thinner.”
“The bible was soaked in this clear fluid,” officials add. “There were also several doors covered in the water-based thinner… Caleb said he soaked the doors in an attempt to make the area safe.”
According to arresting documents, Stanley intended to “create a larger fire by soaking bibles in the clear liquid then igniting them.”
When officers began to question Stanley in regards to the actions he states he had “originally entered the church to feel safe but then started feeling uncomfortable after being inside for a while.”
Officers add: “Caleb said he committed the various crimes in an attempt to make things right.”
On March 18, Caleb Papaa Stanley was transported to Weber County Jail and booked on burglary, criminal mischief, theft, and arson.
“Due to the burning of the bibles, the use of pagan symbols, and Caleb’s knowledge he would cause
fear to those attempting worship at the church, the offense of arson was enhanced to a class A misdemeanor,” reads a probable cause statement.
This is based on preliminary information from arresting documents and is subject to change as further investigation will reveal additional details.