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Jewish World Review March 29, 2001 / 5 Nissan, 5761

Brian D. Crecente

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Consumer Reports

Woman arrested in pastor harassment case -- LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Police here have arrested a 36-year-old woman who they say directed a group of teenagers to harass and threaten her Baptist pastor.

The harassment culminated last week when two of the teens rolled a bottle of gasoline under another pastor's car and set it aflame.

Patricia Hancock faces charges of conspiracy to commit first- and second-degree arson, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, burglary, theft, harassment by stalking and felony criminal mischief.

The two teens, whose names were not released because of their age, were also arrested and facing arson charges.

Bear Valley Baptist Church pastor Jim Walters says he wasn't too worried about the daily death threats he received through e-mail, on the phone and in letters.

The bombardment became so regular that he didn't bother to call police when someone smashed in one of the windows of his station wagon on March 15.

But that changed when Walters walked out of a church meeting to find his wagon's tires slashed, the wipers torn from the windshield and the words "you will die," carved into a door.

"Even after that vandalism I didn't suspect it was going to escalate to the point that it did," Walters said.

He said Hancock had attended the Baptist church for nearly three years, receiving food donations, home repair supplies and counseling from Walters without problem.

According to a police report, Hancock started telling strange stories about her childhood and her children and at one point Walters confronted her about them.

That's when the threats started.

Police had little to go on following the threats and the vandalism, but on March 20 the detective assigned to the case drove past the church and noticed smoke billowing from under one of the cars in the parking lot.

"I think that's where G-d intervened," Walters said.

A witness told the detective that two teens had rolled a water bottle filled with gasoline under the car, which belonged to another pastor at the church, and then set it on fire.

Brian D. Crecente writes for the Denver Rocky Mountain News . Comment by clicking here.


© 2001, SHNS