Broken windows are covered up at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, after reports of vandalism on Monday night. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Broken windows are covered up at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, after reports of vandalism on Monday night. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Vandalism spree hits four Valley churches

Suspect arrested in one church, is person of interest in other crimes

A Juneau woman vandalized multiple churches in the Mendenhall Valley on Monday night and early Tuesday morning, police say.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints suffered the worst damage, as all 21 of its front windows were broken and damage is estimated at $10,000, a Juneau Police Department press release states. Alesa Abbott, a 24-year-old Juneau woman, was arrested inside the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church around 1 a.m. Tuesday and police say she is a person of interest in all of the vandalisms.

At about 8:35 p.m. Monday, JPD got a call about someone breaking windows at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The caller stated that the person was wearing all black clothing and a hat and was walking toward Glacier Highway, the release states. When officers arrived at the church, they found the 21 broken windows but it didn’t appear that the suspect had entered the church, according to the release.

Police found a handwritten note at the scene, but Lt. Krag Campbell said they’re not releasing the details of the note because the case is still under investigation. Campbell said the note explained Abbott’s reasoning for breaking the windows, but he said the claims in the note are likely not factual.

At about 11:44 p.m. Monday, another report came in that there was a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot at the Juneau Church of Christ, according to the JPD release. Officers went to the church but the car was no longer there. Officers did notice that two windows were broken at the church, but once again, the suspect did not appear to have entered the church, police say.

Officers had seen a person on a bike nearby when they arrived, according to the release, and the description of the person on the bike matched the description of the suspect in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints vandalism.

About an hour later, a police officer was patrolling around churches in the Mendenhall Valley when they saw two broken windows at the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. One of the windows was propped open, the officer noticed, and a bicycle was on the ground near the windows. The officer then saw a woman in the church, the release states.

Other officers came as police got in touch with church employees and got the passcode to enter the church, according to the release. Once officers were inside the church, Abbott greeted them by pushing an officer and yelling for them to take her to jail, the release alleges.

After a short struggle, police detained and arrested Abbott. They found that she had a backpack and a crowbar, as well as a credit or debit card that belonged to the church’s pastor, police say. Police arrested Abbott for second-degree burglary, second-degree theft and fourth-degree criminal mischief, and she was taken to Lemon Creek Correctional Center and held without bail. She’s considered a person of interest in the other vandalisms, police say.

The next morning, two more vandalisms in the area came to light. At about 6:40 a.m. Tuesday, a business in the 3400 block of Glacier Highway reported someone had broken a window at their office building. At 7:50 a.m. Tuesday, the Juneau Christian Center reported that two windows and their main entrance doors were damaged.

A handwritten note was found at the Juneau Christian Center, Campbell said, that was similar to the first one that was found. Campbell said police are not releasing the details of that note either.

Police estimate damages at $400 for the Juneau Church of Christ, $500 for Shepherd of the Valley, $750 for the business and $750 for the Juneau Christian Center. Abbott is a person of interest in all of the incidents, according to JPD.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


One of two broken windows are boarded up at the Juneau Church of Christ on Trinity Drive on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, after reports of vandalism on Monday night. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

One of two broken windows are boarded up at the Juneau Church of Christ on Trinity Drive on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, after reports of vandalism on Monday night. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

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