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Priest convinced crosses shown on site were stolen from church
Anchorage Daily News


February 07, 2007
Wednesday AM

A priest didn't expect to see his processional cross again after it was stolen from his church in the middle of the night more than two weeks ago.

Then the Rev. Bob Young of Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Eagle River, Alaska, was directed to a Web page. On the site, a bare-chested teenager posed with a handgun among drifting marijuana bongs. In his other hand, the youth held a cross that Young instantly recognized. When the priest looked closer, he saw the boy also was wearing a cross necklace he wore while leading Sunday Mass.

"Oh, jeepers," the 65-year-old priest said in a telephone interview.

Police say it's not the first time they've found clues on MySpace - teenagers are increasingly using the Web site to brag about their exploits.

Moisae Martushev, 18, appeared in an Anchorage court last week, charged with 34 counts of burglary, theft and criminal mischief. He and three others are accused of breaking into a string of churches.

While police can't prove the items Martushev is posing with on his MySpace page belong to the church - they haven't yet recovered the objects - for Young there is no question.

The disappearance of the processional cross caused much angst for the church. The cross was more than a symbol of God - it was also a symbol of perseverance for the Eagle River church. It was one of only a few objects that had survived two fires at Holy Spirit Episcopal.

Then, in early January, Young discovered that the church had been broken into. Doors were busted, a fire extinguisher had been sprayed around and the offices were ransacked. Two dollars - the only money in the church - was stolen. Days later, thieves pilfered the processional cross from the sanctuary behind the altar and took Young's necklace cross from his desk.

Looking to steal money is one thing, Young said, but crosses?

"Some of us thought they may be into satanic worship," he said.

The congregation prayed for the thieves.

When a reporter directed Young to Martushev's page this week, the priest's dial-up Internet connection took half an hour to bring up the link. Loud music and nasty lyrics boomed from the computer's speakers.

"Well, I'll be darned," he said as the images slowly appeared.

Marijuana pipes swam around the page - although Young didn't know that's what they were. Photos of provocatively dressed women from other MySpace pages are listed as Martushev's friends.

Police discovered the site after a tipster called it in, and they arrested Martushev after he tried to pawn some of the other items stolen from churches.


Megan Holland can be reached at mrholland(at)
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