VILLAS – Two Villas residents have been arrested after the sign in front of St. John Neumann Church, on Bayshore Road, in Villas, was vandalized with spray paint.
Patrick W. Rosenkrans, 33, and Jennifer M. Paul, 36, are being charged with criminal mischief, according to Lower Township police.
The charges are the result of an investigation prompted by a July 9 complaint. The church’s main sign board had been spray-painted with “DEFENESTRATE BABIES” in a reddish-pink color on one side and “HAIL with a star” in a black color on the other side.
Though Rosenkrans and Paul are only charged in conjunction with this specific complaint, St. John Neumann has been dealing with the graffiti on their sign for weeks.
Mike Beck, head of the pro-life committee at the Catholic church, told the Herald the sign was first vandalized at the end of May.
At the time, a banner attached to the sign depicted a smiling baby and read “God has a plan for us All! Choose Life!”
“I’m a walker. I get up and walk every morning,” Beck said.
One morning in May, the sign had been slashed.
The church replaced the banner, but in the weeks that followed, it was vandalized repeatedly, sometimes with expletives.
Beck saw the vandalism and notified the police each time in the early morning after it had happened.
He said the banners cost roughly $90.
Eventually, rather than replace the banner again, the church painted over the graffiti with white paint. As of July 18, the sign board sat blank and a police observation device with cameras atop sat in the church parking lot.
Police did not say how they identified or caught Rosenkrans and Paul.
“As a veteran, I fought for this right to display these kinds of signs, and if someone is aggravated by it, well, too bad,” said Beck.
A staff member at St. John Neumann said the church had to contact the Camden Diocese before providing comment.
Any charges are accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
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