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Vandal targeting churches in California beheads Virgin Mary statue

The second incident in a month leads the Catholic churches to believe it is the same perpetrator.

Image source: CBS-LA screenshot

In the Pomona Valley area of the Greater Los Angeles region, a vandal has beheaded a statue of the Virgin Mary.

For over 50 years, a statue of Mary stood outside the chapel at Saint Margaret Mary's Catholic Church in Chino. Now that statue has been vandalized, the most recent in what appears to be a connected series of vandalism incidents at churches in and around this area of Los Angeles's sprawl.

CBS Los Angeles reported Tuesday that the vandal struck on Saturday, trespassing onto the property and bashing or cutting off the head of the statue. The damage was similar to the damage inflicted on two statues at Our Lady Lourdes Catholic Church a few miles away.

In the prior incident, which took place in February, a security camera caught an unknown person using what appeared to be a sledgehammer to commit the obscenity.

Marianne Hacker, an administrator from Saint Margaret Mary's, told CBS she thinks the vandal is "definitely trying to make a statement."

Both churches believe it was the same vandal, and Hacker believes the same person was responsible for shattering a stained glass window at the church recently. That window also depicted the Virgin Mary.

Across town, a Catholic church in Santa Monica has suffered similar incidents of vandalism, spanning over the last 16 years. In 2002, the hands of a statue of the Virgin Mary were removed at St. Monica's Catholic Church, and then in 2009, the statue was similarly beheaded.

That same church was hit again just last August, when the repaired statue, which has been at the church for almost 65 years, was covered and tagged with yellow spray paint.

In Chino, the churches that suffered the most recent vandalism tell CBS they don't know why they are being targeted in particular, but Saint Margaret Mary's Hacker says they are "always willing to forgive, and we're always willing to help if there's anger."

Chino police are looking into both recent incidents, and anyone with information is encouraged to contact them.

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