Two young men who told authorities they got a “rush” from breaking into churches, and a woman who allegedly drove their getaway car appeared Monday in Missoula County Justice Court.
Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech set bail at $75,000 each for Drake Anthony Hotzel, 20, and Jon Phillip Worcester, 19; and at $5,000 for Mackenzie Raye Culp, 19.
All three, of Missoula, are charged with conspiracy to commit burglary, a felony with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or a $50,000 a fine. Hotzel faces eight counts; Worcester, 19, faces seven counts, and six counts were filed against Culp.
The break-ins apparently started on Nov. 25 and continued through last week, according to charging documents filed by Deputy Missoula County Attorney Shawn Thomas.
They involved the Blessed Trinity Church on Eaton Street, which was burglarized three times; the Lighthouse Baptist Church on Gharrett Street, burglarized twice; the First Church of the Nazarene on 26th Avenue, and the Journey Christian Fellowship on South Fifth Street.
Two homes also allegedly were burglarized, according to Thomas’ affidavit.
“Worcester stated it was Hotzel’s idea to break into churches because he did not see any security measures and (there were) easy ways to get into churches. Worcester stated that he and Hotzel would get a rush breaking into churches,” the affidavit said.
Culp told authorities she drove the men to the scenes and waited for them to commit the burglaries, it said. “She knew exactly what they were doing,” it said.
Worcester told police that Hotzel used a Christmas tree as a battering ram to break out one church window.
At Blessed Trinity on Dec. 13, “the pedestal that contained the Holy Sacrament was knocked over and the Holy Sacrament was dumped on the floor,” the affidavit said. On Dec. 19 at Blessed Trinity, “wrapped presents intended for Franklin School were thrown on the floor and torn open … In the kitchen area of the church there were knives stabbed into the door, walls and ceiling,” it said.
Worcester told police he was looking for money and that Hotzel sought food, the affidavit said.
On Monday, Orzech questioned Culp about her relationship to Hotzel and Worcester.
“They are just my friends. I met them in school,” she told the judge.
“So you won’t be hanging with them anymore. By court order, that relationship is over,” Orzech said.
Earlier this year, Worcester and Hotzel received three-year deferred sentences in connection with stealing items from a car.