A man accused of spray-painting swastikas on graves and churches in Glen Carbon refused to speak when he appeared before a judge Wednesday.
Timothy V. McLean, 34, of Glen Carbon has been charged with dozens of felonies alleging he has been painting swastikas on private homes, cars, three churches and more than 200 grave markers at Sunset Hill Memorial Gardens.
On Wednesday morning, McLean appeared before Madison County Associate Judge Neil Schroeder via camera from the Madison County Jail. When the jail officer attempted to hand McLean the printed copy of his charges, McLean refused to take it and sat with his head down as other inmates appeared before the judge.
When McLean was called before the judge, he stood straight and stared at the camera. But when Schroeder spoke to him, McLean did not respond.
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“Mr. McLean, can you hear me?” Schroeder asked. Other inmates attempted to get his attention and prod him into responding, but McLean ignored them.
“Mr. McLean, is it your intention that you are not going to speak to me?” Schroeder asked. McLean did not respond.
Schroeder then read the charges, which include four counts of hate crimes, three counts of institutional vandalism regarding spray painting churches, 14 counts of criminal damage to property over $500 and one count of violating the Cemetery Protection Act.
On hearing the charges, one of the other inmates muttered, "Cemetery, man.”
McLean did not respond to any of the charges. Schroeder said that a public defender would be appointed to represent him, and he ordered a psychiatric evaluation.
At that point, McLean was immediately removed from the room, nearly running out past the other inmates. Capt. Mike Dixon with the Madison County Sheriff's Department said he could not give specifics as to whether McLean was being held in solitary confinement.
"(I) will say that it is our ever-constant practice to safeguard inmates in our custody, who pose a danger, represent a threat, or because of their affiliations and/or charges against them might be threatened," Dixon said. "That practice does include special housing for inmates who are in danger or represent a threat to others."
McLean has a long criminal history and has been deemed mentally unfit to stand trial at least once. He has spent time in and out of mental institutions and has prior records of phone harassment and threatening public officials.
But some of his alleged crimes will come as a surprise. The vandalism at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church, for example, did not gain much attention, as the church’s leaders had it cleaned up right away. Swastikas in white paint were found on the church walls the day after Easter, having been painted the night before, according to Deacon Jerry Cato.
Cato pointed out that the swastikas painted on the church strongly resembled the swastikas that showed up weeks later at Sunset Hill: turned backward with a long swoop at the bottom. Cato said when they discovered the vandalism the morning after Easter, he had the groundskeeper power-wash it right away.
“It’s vile and disgusting and doesn’t represent who we are, or any of the other churches,” Cato said in an interview Wednesday. “We didn’t want (parishioners) to see it, because it’s such a symbol of hate, and we’re not about that.”
Cato said it was clear whoever painted the swastikas was not concerned about getting caught; the church is right next door to the Glen Carbon Police Department and can be seen from that side of the church.
“This guy really didn’t care,” Cato said. “I truly have compassion for people with mental illness, but mental illness doesn’t absolve you from right or wrong. We are a community that forgives, because that’s what we’re in the business of, but at the same time, there has to be accountability for people’s actions.”
Glenview Church of the Nazarene and St. John’s Lutheran also are listed as having been vandalized with swastikas in the charges filed against McLean. Representatives of those churches could not immediately be reached for comment. The vandalism at Sunset Hill on Memorial Day weekend drew national attention, with reactions from Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Anti-Defamation League as well as national news coverage.
McLean is scheduled to appear in court next for a preliminary hearing on June 15.