Statutes destroyed by vandal to be buried

By By Natalie Stewart / American Press

Parishioners at Our Lady of Prompt Succor miss the things that remind them of their faith and devotion, the Rev. Edward Richard said.

A Sulphur man was arrested Dec. 15 for breaking into and vandalizing four churches — including Our Lady of Prompt Succor,

where nearly a dozen statues were destroyed with a sledgehammer.

Daniel Wayne Duplechin, accused of

destroying the statues, is charged with four felony hate crimes, two

charges of simple

burglary of a religious building, four charges of simple criminal

property damage, simple burglary and resisting an officer.

He is being held on $690,000 bond at the Calcasieu Correctional

Center.

Richard, church pastor, said an expert

appraised the damage at Prompt Succor, but a report has not been

finalized with a monetary

figure attached to the damage. He said the statues were damaged

beyond repair.

Duplechin allegedly broke into Our Lady of Prompt Succor and Our Lady of LaSalette and used a sledgehammer to break multiple

statues. Parishioners said some statues were nearly a century old and irreplaceable.

Richard said parishioners miss the statues being in the church and are looking forward to the church “getting back to normal,”

and that most of the “important” statues, including those of Our Lady of Prompt Succor and St. Peter Claver, will be among

the first to be replaced.

“Everyone has been really supportive,

and many people want to help us get all of our sacred art restored and

back in the church

to take the place of what we lost,” he said. “Everyone is looking

forward to when we can do that. We have had very good support

from parishioners who have been generous in supporting our efforts

to raise money.”

Richard said that until the insurance process is finished, the church will hold on to the statues; later, they will be buried.

Our Lady of LaSalette also had significant damage, with more than 10 statues destroyed.

The Rev. Lawrence Tohler said the cost of the damage is still unknown; the church is awaiting a final insurance report and

the “wheels are turning very slowly” during the process.

“We do know that statues like the ones damaged aren’t made any more, though, so we won’t be able to replace them with the

same quality of what we had,” he said. “I’m not sure what we are going to do at this point, but we will try and have some

of them replaced.”

Tohler said some of the statues had minor damage and likely are going to be repaired.

A fundraiser dinner to aid in the replacement of statues at Our Lady of Prompt Succor will be at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 27 in the

church hall, 1109 Cypress St. The dinner is being sponsored by Harlequin Steaks and Seafood and Freshko Food Service, and

there will be live music.

Nic Hunter, owner of Harlequin Steaks and Seafood, said he attended Our Lady’s School for four years and the fond memories

he has from them led him to want to help the community recover.

“I have nothing but good memories of that school and that church, and to see something like this happen really affected me,”

he said. “It hurt me to see something evil happen in a place that I have nothing but good memories of and that has so much

positive energy.”

Hunter said the event will raise funds to replace statues and show that the church can rise above the destruction that took

place.

“It’s not only about the money. It’s

about the community coming together and showing that an event like this

isn’t going to

define the church,” he said. “It’s to show that one person can’t

bring this community down or the fellowship that this church

has.”

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling the church office at 527-5261.

No fundraiser has been set up at Our Lady of LaSalette, Tohler said, but there may be one in the near future.

Duplechin was also accused of breaking out glass doors at Henning United Methodist Church and Sulphur First Baptist Church.

Duplechin was arrested at Our Lady of LaSalette, where an officer had to use a Taser on him to apprehend him after he charged

toward an officer with the sledgehammer.

Holly Carter, spokeswoman for the

Calcasieu District Attorney’s Office, said Duplechin’s charges are under

review and an arraignment

date hasn’t been set.