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(Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)

(Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)

Statutes destroyed by vandal to be buried

Last Modified: Saturday, January 12, 2013 5:39 PM

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.

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