by AnnGardner Eubank
KILMARNOCK—Two suspects have been named and charged in a recent string of church invasions and burglaries throughout Lancaster and Northumberland counties.
Nearly three weeks ago, reports of invasions and stolen cash and various items from churches began trickling into the Northumberland and Lancaster County sheriff’s offices.
According to Lancaster County Sheriff Patrick McCranie, at least five churches were invaded and burglarized in Lancaster County. McCranie said several of the churches were hit more than once.
Two arrests were made Saturday, March 11, in connection with the invasions, he said.
As of Tuesday, March 14, Deontra Ta-Von Lampkin, 29, of 7725 Jessie duPont Memorial Highway, Carlson Store, has been charged in Lancaster County with three counts of breaking and entering a building with intent to commit larceny and possession of burglarious tools, implements or outfit with the intent to commit burglary, robbery or larceny. He also was charged with intentionally destroying, defacing or damaging property valued at more than $1,000, as well as knowingly and intentionally possessing or transporting ammunition for a firearm after having been convicted of a felony.
Additionally, Lampkin has been charged with being a prisoner in a correctional facility or in the custody of an employee thereof, introducing into a correctional facility or possessing ammunition for firearms. He also was charged with intentionally damaging, destroying or defacing property valued at less than $1,000. Lampkin also was charged with entering upon the property of a church or school in the nighttime for a purpose other than attending a meeting or service.
According to Northumberland County Sheriff Johnny Beauchamp, Steven Lee Johnston, 32, also of 7725 Jessie duPont Memorial Highway, Carlson Store, also is a suspect in the invasions and burglaries.
Johnston has been charged in Lancaster County with a misdemeanor offense of entering upon the property of a church or school in the nighttime for a purpose other than attending a meeting or service.
“You never know if there has been anyone else involved,” McCranie said.
Lampkin was caught in the process of invading Sharon Baptist Church in Weems and is being held in Lancaster County Jail with no bond.
Cash and various communion pieces were stolen from the churches, McCranie said, including over $1,000 and an iPad from White Stone United Methodist Church.
Several churches in the Burgess area had been invaded during the multiple week period, Beauchamp said.
“There are a lot of moving parts in this investigation with Northumberland, Lancaster and Kilmarnock Police Departments working together,” Beauchamp said.
The investigation is ongoing and measures are being made to ensure these invasions do not occur again.
“Thank goodness law enforcement came together and we were able to catch the guy we believe to be responsible. It’s my hope and prayers that these invasions will stop here,” McCranie said.