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Church vandal suspect arrested

Published: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 12:45 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:47 p.m. CDT
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Meghan Heinze, 22, of Gurnee was arrested Feb. 27 and charged with allegedly vandalizing 10 Gurnee churches.

GURNEE – Gurnee Police Department arrested Meghan Heinze of Gurnee Thursday for the alleged vandalism of 10 Gurnee religious facilities, according to a news release from the police department.

Gurnee detectives spent two weeks investigating a series of criminal defacement incidents at 10 religious institutions in Gurnee, as well as several in neighboring communities.

"Widespread damage was also caused to nine churches in Waukegan, one church in Libertyville, and one church in the jurisdiction of the Lake County Sheriff's Office. The damage caused by the defendant was in excess of $300. A baseball bat and spray paint were found in the defendant's home and were used in the commission of these crimes," according to a news release from the Lake County State's Attorney office.

Gurnee detectives worked with Waukegan, Libertyville and Lake County Sheriff’s detectives to identify Heinze, according to the release.

On Feb. 27 Gurnee officers attending traffic court saw a subject matching the description of the suspect and identified her to detectives. Heinze was questioned at her home and taken into custody without incident, according to the release.

Heinze, 22, was charged with 10 counts of institutional vandalism, a class 2 felony; 10 counts of criminal defacement, a class 3 felony; and 2 counts of criminal damage to property, a class 3 felony. 

Detectives from the other involved communities questioned Heinze at the Gurnee Police Department seeking additional charges.

The first vandalism was reported Feb. 14, followed by more reports of vandalism occurring to religious facilities during the overnight hours with the last Gurnee incident on Feb. 21. During this same time period several incidents occurred in other communities. 

Surveillance videos captured the suspect committing some of the offenses and leaving the scene in a light colored SUV. Photographs of the suspect and vehicle were released to the public in an attempt to identify the subject. During this same time period several incidents occurred in other communities. 

Heinze appeared in bond court and was remanded to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office on a $500,000 bond. 

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