Priest stops klutzy group of would-be burglars

Priest stops klutzy group of would-be burglars

They weren’t exactly the James gang. Five college-age adults—one from Tennessee and the other four from Stafford, Connecticut—were arrested in connection with an attempted break-in at Boston’s Mission Church, also known as the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Check out how the Five Stooges carried out their caper:

A witness says he saw two women, who were carrying at [sic] drill, at one of the church windows. When he asked the pair if they were early for church services, the witness says the females left the drill and fled the scene.

Police says three individuals showed up shortly after, searching for their friends’ drill. Authorities proceeded to arrest Zachery Duensing of Hendersonville, Tenn. along with Stafford, Connecticut residents Robert Ransom and Jamie Stawecki in connection with the church crime. The suspects, who are all 20-years-old, were charged with attempted Breaking and Entering at night, Trespassing and possession of burglarious tools.

Around 4:20 a.m. on Monday, police say two women arrived to bail out their friends.

Melynda Durrell, 21, and Alyse Luurtsema, 19, both of Stafford, Conn., were soon arrested and charged with the same counts as their friends after a cop noticed that the pair resembled the description of the female suspects with the drill that had fled the church grounds earlier that morning.

The witness who caught them was actually one of the priests at the basilica, Fr. Richard Bennett.

Though they were allegedly armed with at least one power drill, Bennett, 37, confronted the ruffians just after 12:10 a.m. yesterday when he stepped outside the twin-spires landmark on Tremont Street to investigate noises.

Bennett, according to Boston police, chased Duensing after he jumped a wrought-iron fence, and upon finding Luurtsema and Durrell trying to crouch out of sight, asked “if they were early for church services.”

The sequence of events in the second story don’t quite match the first, but my guess is that the reporter in the Herald story got it mixed up in the initial reporting and then the WHDH story got it right from the arraignment.

No mention if the five of them are students at local colleges or any other explanation for what they were doing in town or why they were breaking into the church for that matter. Bravo to Fr. Bennett protecting the church and all the sacred objects inside.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
4 comments
  • A little Internet searching turned up some myspace pages that appear to belong to the people involved.  I can’t post the links, ‘cause the blog software is not permitting them, but I’ve mailed them to Dom.  Besides, they were full of gross material.

    On 8/10, someone posted on a myspace page belonging to “Alyse”: “you’re fun, we should party and break into s—- again”.

    Some of her friends’ pages have messages from her on 8/14, announcing that she was planning to move back to New Jersey from Boston for a few months.

    Is it possible that breaking and entering are this young lady’s idea of recreational adventure, with a church break-in as a last summer fling before she left town?

  • Twenty years old is not a kid. It is an adult. Vandalism is not a normal thing kids do.
    They used an electric drill on the church’s lock.
    You are an idiot.

    Oh sorry, did I judge you?

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