A 31-year-old Birmingham man with fanatical religious beliefs is being held by authorities in connection with the vandalism of more than 20 churches, homes and businesses across Jefferson County.
Eja Cree, 31, and another suspect, 45, were taken into custody late Friday afternoon by Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies. Deputies, Hueytown police and FBI agents interviewed the suspects for several hours at the sheriff’s substation in Center Point.
Chief Deputy Randy Christian said Cree is charged with first-degree criminal mischief for vandalizing Mountain View Baptist Church. Cree told detectives the Holy Spirit spoke to him and told him to “get the message out”. The word painted on churches means, to him, Jesus is coming, Christian said. The second person interviewed was released after it was determined that he was not involved.
Additional charges are pending against Cree, Christian said. “I think we are just dealing with mental illness here and we are relieved to discover that,” Christian said. “I would hate to think someone in their right mind would do something like this.”
Vandals struck churches across Jefferson County overnight, spray-painting a single word on doors, sidewalks and buildings. Delivered in purple paint, the word was “Memeneusha,” or variations of it.
The suspect, formerly in the U.S. Air Force reserves, in recent days posted several rambling YouTube videos. One was 15 minutes long, and he is wearing a scarf and sunglasses to conceal his identity.
Most of the vandalism was believed to have been done late Thursday night and early Friday morning.
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