Teen Desecrates "Sacred" Virgin Mary Window Defect

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Angry, bored and unable to sleep, Kyle Maskell grabbed his Marksman slingshot and headed out of his foster home to destroy something that might bring him a degree of infamy that rivaled his rage, police said.

He soon looked up into the image of the Virgin Mary, the iridescent figure that had formed on the side of a glass building on U.S. 19 eight years earlier, leased by a religious group, Shepherds of Christ, exploiting throngs of believers, drawing them to Clearwater, Florida.

Maskell reached into the pouch of his slingshot and launched three or four ball bearings, striking the image's top three panes, police said. People who showed up hours later found the virgin beheaded.

That's the story Clearwater police say Maskell, an 18-year-old Clearwater High School sophomore, told them Monday morning before they arrested him on a charge of felony criminal mischief. He was being held at the Pinellas County Jail Monday night in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Police said the teen cried for three hours while recounting his deed. The guilt had eaten at him for more than two months.

"He was sorry. It wasn't anything he intended to do," said Officer Christian Zarra, one of two officers who interviewed Maskell. "It's just pretty much that life caught up to him. He was very apologetic."

Reactions from those visiting the image Monday were mixed. Some stressed forgiveness, others punishment and responsibility.

"We've been praying for whoever did it since the day it happened," said Rosie Reed, site leader for Shepherds of Christ Ministries, which owns the building. "We pray for the whole world under Mary's image. I'm going to continue praying for everyone involved."

But Jose Pombo II, who was there to light a candle Monday, had punishment in mind.

"If he's 18, he's an adult. For this kid not to know, at the age of 18, what this represents is inexcusable," Pombo said. "I think he should serve a very long time. It's desecrating a holy place. That's like going to Lourdes in France and desecrating it."

The vandalism charge is a third-degree felony, which carries a possible sentence of up to five years in prison, but Clearwater police said it seems unlikely Maskell will receive prison time if convicted of vandalizing the virgin image. "I cannot imagine they would send him to prison for this," Shelor said.

The Shepherds of Christ, meanwhile, will continue to keep vigil at the site. They have replaced the broken panes with panels of clear glass. Though the bottom of the Mary figure remains intact, the number of visitors has declined. Still, they plan to stay put.


Posted by THUORN (thuorn@yahoo.com) on 2007-11-24 11:04:27
"It's desecrating a holy place." funny i would reward that instead of punish it...

i dont see what everyone is up in arms about, its obvious that god wanted the virgin violated, if not i am sure he would have stopped the balls from hitting her in the face.
Posted by Pile on 2007-11-24 11:39:22
Looked more like Darth Vader than the virgin mary anyway.
Posted by TheSimulacra on 2007-11-26 17:23:50
Denis Leary: "You think if the mother of Jesus wanted to make an appearance she'd appear on a goddamn blueberry muffin?!"
Costa Rica
Posted by Edward Bridges on 2009-10-31 18:34:12
I cannot believe these comments posted. I cannot understand the human capacity for evil. Why the non believers persist in viciously attacking the believers. Why do non believers feel so threatened, ask yourself.
Ed deh man
Posted by rastafari on 2010-12-05 17:20:37
Ed deh man.. you alright... dem ballhead chicken ramgoats ain' got no soul and no heart and no cahones...


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