Vandals severely damage church retreat center

Vandals severely damage church retreat center

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - A church retreat center in Kingsport needs major repairs Friday night.

Members of the Sullivan Baptist Association told us vandals broke into their facility stealing appliances and trashing two buildings.

The Sullivan County Sheriff's Office told us this is one of the worst cases of vandalism they have ever seen.

Smashed windows welcome visitors into the Sullivan Baptist Association Retreat Center. The golf ball used to break them is still feet away. "We don't know the full extent of the damage yet," said Chris Alford of the Sullivan Baptist Association.

There is graffiti on the conference room walls and broken lights on the floor, but the kitchen has the worst damage. It's floor is covered in broken dishes, pipes are ripped out under the sinks, and refrigerators and stoves are missing. "Obviously they had tools," Alford told us. "They cut some of the copper lines. They destroyed the electric box."

They also hit the center's lodge up the hill. The vandals went into the bathroom of the lodge and ripped out the ceiling. They pulled the insulation down as far as the floor in some places.

The Association told us they think the vandals may have been trying to get to copper wiring. "It appears they were looking for anything that they could sell really fast or maybe take to a scrap metal yard and get money in return," said Leslie Earhart, the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office spokesperson.

They do not have any suspects, she said, but they think it must have been two or more people.     

Earhart told News 5 they think the vandals planned to come back. "They did leave some items behind that were larger items that would take several people to load," she said. The industrial refrigerators were among those items.

The Association told us the damage adds up to as much as $50,000. The 80-acre property has been up for sale but they'll have to do extensive work now before selling it, Alford said.

Alford told us the vandalism likely happened in the last two weeks.

If you think you may have seen something, the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office asks that you call them at (423) 279-7506 or submit an anonymous tip by clicking here.

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