A third man has been arrested this afternoon in conjuction with last week’s break-in at Martha Bowman United Memorial Methodist Church, Bibb County Sheriff's officials said.
Officials said Matthew Patrick Brown, 21, of Lower Thomaston Road, was taken into custody late this afternoon. He was charged with burglary and vandalism of a place of worship. Investigators are expecting additional arrests as progress in the case continues, a news release said.
Earlier in the day, authorities announced the weekend arrest of two teenagers who were caught in Jones County.
Matthew Steven Scroggins, 19, of 133 Windermere Circle, and a 16-year-old male juvenile were arrested Saturday, sheriff's officials said. Because the 16-year-old is a juvenile, his name wasn't released by authorities. Scroggins is being charged with vandalism in a place of worship and burglary, while the charges against the youth are pending being processed in Juvenile Court.
Scroggins was released Saturday on a $2,400 bond, while the 16-year-old, who also lives in north Bibb County, was released into the custody of his parents
Sheriff Jerry Modena said Cpl. Tony Wynne of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources spotted a suspicious SUV parked in Jones County. When he went to investigate, Wynne caught the two suspects attempting to break into a safe. Wynne and Ranger 1st Class Chad Welch detained the two suspects until deputies from the Jones County SheriffÕs Office arrived on the scene. They found documents from the church and informed Bibb County authorities of their discovery.
Scroggins and the juvenile were arrested in May on charges of five counts of vandalism in downtown Macon. That case is still pending in court, officials said.
Officials said the suspects are accused of breaking into the church late Thursday evening or early Friday morning. Vandals broke through several Sheetrock walls and stole two safes, a cash box, musical instruments and electronic equipment.
Investigators said they also are looking into the possibility that Scroggins and the 16-year-old were involved in a car break-in Wednesday night in the church's parking lot.
Authorities and church officials weren't certain Monday if the two teenagers had been in the church or were members of the congregation. However, Modena said the nature of the break-in seemed to indicate a familiarity with the building.
"The layout of the church is pretty specific," he said. "I don't think they could have found some of the stuff with a random walk-through."
Church officials estimated the damage to the building would cost hundreds of dollars, with thousands of dollars of equipment stolen.
Modena said his office already has received several calls about the case but urges people with information to call the sheriff's office at 746-9441 or call CrimeStoppers at (877) 68-CRIME.