A church bell dating back to 1882 recently was stolen from a church in the small town of Gunn City in Cass County. “It’s been ringing in Gunn City Christian Church for 141 years,” Pastor Steve Winnie, 70, told a local newspaper.
Earlier this month, Winnie contacted the Cass County Sheriff’s Office when the bell suddenly vanished. Its disappearance was first noticed by musicians from the church band who practice on Saturday nights. When the pastor drove over to investigate, there was a hole in the roof and the bell appeared to have been pulled down by a rope or a chain.
Gunn City, which is about 50 miles southeast of Kansas City, does not usually experience such high-profile crime.
A break in the case came last week when Winnie got a call from the sheriff’s department. They wanted him to drive up to the office in Harrisonville, saying they had found the stolen property and needed him to identify it. “When I went in, the deputy said, ‘Now, I don’t want you to get too upset here,’” Winnie said.
The bell was busted up into small chunks and looked as if someone had hit it with a sledgehammer. Winnie, though, was still able to give them a positive ID. The sheriff’s office announced the next day that an arrest had been made and felony charges had been filed against 36-year-old Christopher Longacre of nearby Garden City. He was pulled over in his vehicle by Cass County deputies Wednesday who found pieces of the bell in the vehicle. He is accused of stealing and narcotics possession, and was ordered held in the county jail on a $25,000 bond.
Authorities estimate the bell, fenced for scrap, could have netted about $4,800. The figure was based on a weight of 150 pounds and a going rate of $2 per ounce for brass at scrap yards. Winnie hopes and prays something good may come out of the situation in the end.
Our goal is to help others to come to Christ,” he said. “And if this event is used to help bring this person to know Jesus, the love of Jesus, and turn them around, where they will be a good person and live as they ought to, the way God wants us to, then something good has come out of it. That’s what I pray for.”
The pastor says they’ll replace the bell because they have insurance. They just don’t know where to shop. They haven’t purchased a bell for over 140 years.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice