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Church mystery baffles investigators

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  • Melanie Jula Sakoda
    Submitted by Melanie Jula Sakoda http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=local&id=4808051 Church mystery baffles investigators Officials say they simply
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2006
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      Submitted by Melanie Jula Sakoda

      http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=local&id=4808051

      Church mystery baffles investigators
      Officials say they simply can't find anyone to talk to them
      Eyewitness News
      (Jersey City - WABC, November 29, 2006) - There is a church mystery
      swirling in New Jersey.

      A leader at Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church tells police items
      are missing, and blames a priest who has since been reassigned.
      But the mystery grows, because police are now having a hard time
      getting hold of the the leader making the allegations.

      The church is on Summit Avenue in Jersey City.

      Eyewitness News reporter Toni Yates has the story.

      Nobody is officially calling this a crime yet, because police can't
      nail down exactly what did or didn't happen, or what was or wasn't
      stolen.

      Police say they can't get any solid information because they simply
      can't get anyone to call them back.

      Did a pair of church pews listed on eBay come from St. Demetrios?

      Police want to know.

      "They found pews missing from the upper loft of the church," Jersey
      City Deputy Chief of Police Peter Nalbach said. "So they were on sale
      for about $100 on eBay."

      Church member Helen Baltzis doesn't think the pews are the same.

      "Since the Father leave, I see the same things they have inside,"
      Baltzis said. "I don't know."

      But the president of St. Demetrios' church council claimed in a
      police report that the pews, artwork and money totaling $50,000 was
      stolen. He reportedly blames a former priest that has since returned
      to Greece.

      There are allegations, but was there a crime?

      "The parish council of the church or the diocisian people would have
      to sign a criminal complaint against him," Nalbach said. "And right
      now, we haven't had anybody who has come forward to really help us
      much more than the accusation."

      Attempts to reach the council president using the number he gave to
      police were unsuccessful, as the number had been disconnected.

      Detectives are stumped and say no one involved is talking. Baltzis
      believes the whole ordeal started as a power struggle between a
      priest and a council president, who didn't get along.

      "I feel so bad inside," she said.

      A member of the archdiocese said the priest moved back to Greece
      simply because he had been in the county for several years and was
      ready to go home long before the allegations came out.

      As for the person who made the allegations, the archdiocese member
      said a list of the missing items was requested. Officials say they
      are still waiting for that list.

      As for the pews being auctioned on eBay, they sold on the same day
      the police report was filed.
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