Preliminary Hearing Continued in Baby Jesus Theft Case

By: Lauren Schmoll Email
By: Lauren Schmoll Email

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A nativity scene is finally back together, and the case is moving forward against the men deputies say tried to destroy it.

Cory Crabtree, 19, was in court Monday for a pretrial hearing at Lawrence County Municipal Court in Chesapeake.

He faces a charge of receiving stolen property -- after deputies say they caught him and two other men with the baby Jesus from a public nativity scene in Burlington, Ohio.

That hearing was continued until Friday.

“It's the religious part of Christmas,” Margaret Pennington said. “I would've rather you taken anything else other than that.”

She's helped decorate the park for years. But this year, instead of joy, her work has brought tears -- after the display was vandalized not once, but twice.

“I got discouraged,” Pennington said. “Once you do this for people to see, for young people to enjoy -- and it happens, then it happens again. You get discouraged. You don't wanna do it again.”

In the latest vandalism, the baby Jesus was stolen, along with ol’ Saint Nick.

“Sheriff's deputies stopped a couple guys,” Ed Moellendick said. “They found baby Jesus in the back seat of a car. They knew what had happened, so they brought him back for us. But Santa is still missing.”

Ed Moellendick, vice president of the Concerned Citizens' Group, says something like this would not have happened when he first moved to the area more than two decades ago.

“I don't know that there is an answer in today's society,” Moellendick said. “Like Margaret says, you can't punish the kids. The court system, they take as a joke.”

“I would like the judge to let me have those guys for one year and make them work down here 10 hours a day, and I could find something for them to do for a year for 10 hours a day,” Pennington said.

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