SUMTER COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Members of a church that has a storied history in Mayesville say a recent act of vandalism against their house of worship is only the latest one in a long "plague" of attacks.
"Approximately twice this year we've had vandals arrested here for trespassing at night," Salem Black River Presbyterian Church elder George McFaddin said.
McFaddin added that having unwelcome guests on the grounds of the church past hours is only the tip of the problem. He says numerous times in the past trespassers have entered the church's cemetery and left spray paint on headstones.
On Sept. 29, McFaddin came by to check on the church. According to the Sumter County Sheriff's Office, multiple buildings on the grounds were vandalized with graffiti and one message left said: "Rot in Hell."
"There were 'Heil Hitler' writings on several places and two or three [messages] stated 'George Bush started 9/11,'" McFaddin said. "Our church is open to anybody twice a month to come and worship with us. There's no reason to come here at night."
On Friday Kayla Marie Eilerman, Clayre Marie Savage, Daveion Raaheim Green and Brandon Munoz were all arraigned in Sumter County bond court in connection with the recent vandalism. Authorities say all four are airmen at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter.
A judge set bond for each of them at $500 surety bond for trespassing, $4,500 for conspiracy and $10,000 for vandalism.
McFaddin says troubles with vandalism usually happen at the church around Halloween each year. The elder added that behavior seems to be fueled by internet rumors that the church is haunted.
Salem Black River has a history in Sumter County dating back to the 18th century. The church's current building dates back to the 1840s.
"This church is built out of materials that are hard to replace now and it's expensive to repair this building," McFaddin said, "you don't have the craftsmen today that were here when this church was built."
The four suspects charged in connection with the recent vandalism are due back in court on Dec.1.