CHURCH VANDALISM

Suspect ‘remorseful’ after 43 charges in ugly incidents

2013-07-12T01:00:00Z Suspect ‘remorseful’ after 43 charges in ugly incidentsBy RICHARD WALKER, T&D Staff Writer The Times and Democrat

An Orangeburg man has been charged with 43 counts of damaging houses of worship, including four instances where feces were thrown on churches.

Blake Hiscox, 56, of 1521 Columbia Road, was arrested on Wednesday, a day after video surveillance cameras caught a man throwing rocks at a downtown church. Authorities say the vandalism started five years ago.

“We’re very pleased that we were able to bring this case to a resolution,” Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Chief Wendell Davis said. “It’s been frustrating to gather the information and for such a long period of time, not to develop a suspect.”

Hiscox went before Orangeburg City Judge Barney Houser, who set bond at a total of $20,000 in two hearings held on consecutive days.

“You’re charged with 40 counts of malicious injury to places of worship that are in addition to the (three warrants) served yesterday,” Houser said during Thursday’s hearing.

The number of churches said to have suffered damage is 17.

If convicted, Hiscox faces a sentence ranging from six months to 10 years in prison on each charge.

Prosecutor Sarah Ford asked the court for a high surety bond considering the details of the accusations and the lengthy period during which they are said to have occurred.

The first instances happened when feces were thrown onto the churches, she said.

Hiscox has out-of-state family with few ties to the Orangeburg area, Ford said. “It’s our concern that he would be a flight risk.”

Asking for low bond, Hiscox told the court he is “remorseful” and cooperated with investigators.

“One thing I’d like to point out is I’d lose my job,” if he can’t make bail, he said. “It won’t help anyone if I lose my job.”

A native of Indiana, Hiscox said he moved to the Orangeburg area 13 years ago and works for a local manufacturing plant as a quality control supervisor.

Hiscox told the court that during his overnight stay in jail, he had already received threats against “my life, my property, my ex-wife.”

“I would like to turn myself over to the mercy of the court,” he said. “I recognize I need some help.”

Representatives from three area churches were present during Thursday’s hearing. Each declined to speak.

Davis didn’t speculate about why the churches were targeted.

“Obviously, that’s a very good question, and I don’t have the details ... to answer that,” he said.

However, during the initial bond hearing on Wednesday, Hiscox told the court he had gone into a state of depression and became “mad at God.”

Authorities say the incidents of broken windows and feces smeared on churches across the city date back to spring 2008. Beginning in April of that year, five churches were targeted. Four of the five had the front doors smeared with feces.

Police issued a statement at that time asking for the public to report anything that appeared suspicious.

The assault on the area’s worship houses increased dramatically in 2009. That year there were 23 instances where churches reported damage.

Then in 2010, one church made a report. Five acts of vandalism were reported in 2011, four each in 2012 and this year.

Authorities have conservatively estimated the damage to the 17 facilities at more than $20,000. One church alone suffered $3,000 in damage when a stained glass window was shattered.

The list of victims reads like an Orangeburg church directory. Authorities said that list could get longer. If so, the list of charges will lengthen as well.

This year the attacks started in April when a rock was thrown through a window at the Orangeburg Lutheran Church on Ellis Avenue.

On July 2, the First Baptist Church was targeted, then Grace and Mercy Tabernacle and the Way of Life Assembly. Each had a rock thrown through a window.

However, during the First Baptist Church incident, surveillance cameras installed by the city on Russell Street last fall caught a subject driving up to the church in a Ford Taurus. Davis said business cameras picked up where the city cameras left off.

The driver is seen on city and private cameras walking up to the church and throwing two rocks.

On Wednesday, police spotted a Taurus matching the one in the video and stopped it. After questioning the driver, he admitted to throwing the rocks, according to one of the multiple incident reports.

Davis said authorities were helped by technology and weekly crime data analysis, which showed a pattern to the incidents as well as a geographical range.

Sgt. John Caddell and Cpl. Kevin Dukes led the current investigation, drawing from the extensive file compiled by now-retired Sgt. Cindy Smoak, Davis said.

Contact the writer: rwalker@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516.

Copyright 2014 The Times and Democrat. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. FmrOburgRes
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    FmrOburgRes - July 17, 2013 2:50 pm
    I concur as well.
  2. FmrOburgRes
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    FmrOburgRes - July 17, 2013 2:50 pm
    Remorseful? He is ashamed and scared now because he actually has to face up for his crimes. I say highest bond available and sentenced to the most time possible. This guy did this over a LONG time. As far as a job is concerned, If I were his employer or worked where he was employed, he'd be history period. This guy is a disgrace to humanity. FECES?? Really? I wonder what his house looks like....
  3. pedingsgang
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    pedingsgang - July 16, 2013 6:57 am
    Good repercussion, mwtp. I'm sure there are alot of churches that could use leaves raked and lawns mowed (with a push mower), and flower beds weeded. Several volunteers could supervise.

    Sounds like a plan to me!
  4. manwiththeplan
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    manwiththeplan - July 14, 2013 10:56 pm
    It takes alotta nerve to vandalize churches and then ask for mercy in court. I think he should be locked up for years. And the only time he should see the light of day is when hes doing supervised community at churches.
  5. GatorGirl
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    GatorGirl - July 12, 2013 11:53 am
    He said that he got mad at God. Wow. My God is merciful. That's why He didn't strike him down. Apparently the inmates he spent the night with didn't take lightly what Hiscox had done.He's worried about his job if he can't make bail. I believe he will lose his job anyway.
  6. pedingsgang
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    pedingsgang - July 12, 2013 8:31 am
    concur, gg.
  7. GatorGirl
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    GatorGirl - July 12, 2013 7:03 am
    I consider it a hate crime.
  8. pedingsgang
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    pedingsgang - July 12, 2013 3:46 am
    "Asking for low bond, Hiscox told the court he is “remorseful” and cooperated with investigators."

    He's remorseful because he got caught. Prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law to send a message to anybody else thinking of doing such an awful thing to a place a worship.

    Also, if this were a temple or place of worship other than Christian, I believe it would be considered a "hate crime". I'm sure some poster will know the answer to this.

    Sick, just plain sick.
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