Woman charged with vandalizing 20 churches, mosques

By Lisa Black, Tribune reporter

A Gurnee woman faces felony charges after authorities said she was responsible for defacing 20 Lake County houses of worship with red spray paint.

Meghan Heinze, 22, appeared in court this morning on charges of criminal defacement to property at a place of worship and criminal damage to property, both felonies, as well as institutional vandalism, State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said.

Heinze is accused of using red spray paint to deface at least 20 religious institutions in Gurnee, Waukegan, Libertyville and unincorporated Lake County since Feb. 14.

Heinze confessed to police that she spray-painted all the churches with words, upside down crosses and smiley faces, and used a baseball bat to break windows and doors, officials said. They retrieved spray paint and a baseball bat from her bedroom at home, said Paola DeLeon-Bond, assistant state’s attorney.

Investigators found text messages that indicated she was seeking access to a gun, and her mother told police that she had become obsessed with Nazis and serial killer videos, the prosecutor said.

Her mother also told police her daughter was on antidepressants.

“She said she is angry with religion right now. She stated that everyone is following a book written 2000 years ago,” DeLeon-Bond said.

She drew the inverted crosses to demonstrate that the religions were upside down in their faith, the prosecutor said.

Four police officers identified Heinze Thursday morning when she appeared in traffic court on an unrelated matter, said Paola DeLeon-Bond, assistant state’s attorney.

The officers retrieved information from Heinze, then returned to the police station to compare photos from the video, officials said. Gurnee police returned to her home later that afternoon, apprehending Heinze as she got out of her car.

“She said, ‘I know what this is about,’” DeLeon-Bond told Judge Raymond Collins.

Heinze, who appeared in blue scrubs in bond court, told the judge she didn’t know if she could afford to pay 10 percent of the $500,000 bond and referred to her mother in the observation gallery.

Her mother, who sobbed through much of the hearing, approached Nerheim afterward.

“I apologize for my daughter’s actions, even though she is an adult,” said the mother, distraught. “She has no priors, not even a traffic ticket. She’s not in her right mind.”

He assured the mother that it was not her fault.

“We will be reaching out to all the churches involved and seek their input,” Nerheim said later. “There may be more charges.”

Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

7 comments

  • Derpus

    This is a big step back for nonbelievers, who are trying so hard to gain the trust of the other 85% of the country. Atheists are the least trusted minority in the US. Lady, whatever message you think you're sending, this is not the way to demonstrate that we are "good without a God." Congratulations on reinforcing the notion that we have no sense of right and wrong.

    To the believers out there — sorry, we don't all think this is acceptable. Houses of worship are usually beautiful places. It's sad someone has to resort to desecration to make a point.

  • JD001

    Yes 1 Billion people responsible for the actions of a few who want to make political points

    A woman and her daughter were bludgeoned to death in their Queens home by the woman’s live-in boyfriend, who called 911 and confessed that he had “killed them because they are witches,” Boyfriend was arrested holding bible

    Christian militiamen killed at least 70 people in the remote southwest of Central African Republic, at one point ordering a group of Muslims to lie on the ground and shooting them one by one

    I guess All christians around the world are now evil right?

  • Mike

    1. The woman who did the vandalism wasn't Muslim.
    2. Mosques were targeted as well as churches
    3. Stop smoking crack and stick to the subject at hand

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s