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Arrest in baby Jesus case

Statue
Dec. 07, 2012 @ 11:29 AM

HUNTINGTON — Police have arrested a man suspected of stealing and defacing a decorative baby Jesus, according to records in Cabell County Magistrate Court.

Kameron Tyler Lambert, 22, of Huntington is charged with misdemeanor petit larceny and destruction of property, the records state.

Huntngton Police Detective Chris Sperry filed the charge and attended Friday’s arraignment. He said Lambert was released on a $10,000 bond.

It marks the latest development in a case that started at 12:53 a.m., Nov. 30, when a young man swiped the figurine from an elaborate porch Nativity scene at 1102 5th Ave. That prompted the offering of a $500 reward and a search for answers that led to a confession by a suspect Wednesday night.

Sperry checked several apartments Thursday, eventually finding the figurine at a unit in the 1400 block of 4th Avenue. The figurine had been defaced with permanent, black marker. The markings included sexual obscenities, anarchy symbols and anti-religious statements.

News of the figurine's discovery pleased Becki Carpenter. She helped install the Nativity last week. The 5th Avenue house serves as administrative headquarters for several McDonald's restaurants in Ashland and the Huntington area. She is the company's local store marketing director.

"We are very happy," she said Thursday. "We'll be glad when it can be returned to the Nativity scene."

Sperry had received information on Wednesday about a possible suspect. That person initially denied knowing anything about the figurine's theft, but later confessed at the mention of surveillance video, Sperry said. He told the detective he was drunk at the time and couldn't remember where he left it.

Carpenter had no timetable for when the figurine would be returned, but the cleaning effort will be significant. The markings included an upside down cross, an anarchy symbol, the number "666," and the phrase "I hate your God" on the figurine's backside. Other markings were found on the front, with stitching marks on its forearms and nail marks on both hands.

The figurine's eyes also were blackened, with ram horns on each side of its head and other markings on the face. More offensive marks were placed on its chest and groin.

The baby Jesus was part of a nine-piece Nativity scene. It carried a retail value of more than $1,000. The restaurants' operator, Tom Wolfe, purchased the set out of a desire to help the community celebrate Christmas.

Two surveillance cameras, installed as part of the display, captured a younger adult male, casually dressed with a side backpack, walk onto the Nativity's platform. The recordings show him swiping the baby Jesus and fleeing in a matter of seconds.

The company had offered a $500 reward for information leading to its recovery.

Similar Nativity thefts have been reported elsewhere in the nation.

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