Two Smithsburg Men Plead Guilty to Church Burglaries


WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. - On Monday, two of the three Smithsburg men charged in connection to a series of church burglaries pleaded guilty in the Washington County Circuit Court to numerous charges including felony theft. 

"It's just unfortunate kind of sad state of affairs now a days you know people are that desperate that they have to rob from a church," said Jim Mertz, Financial Secretary at Mount Lena United Methodist Church.

Mount Lena United Methodist Church is one of several churches that had cash, checks or equipment stolen from them by Michael Hymes, Randy Miller and Jeffrey Harper last October and November.

In court, Miller and Hymes plead guilty to several counts of first and second degree burglary and felony theft and offered to provide evidence against Jeffrey Harper. Officials said it's a case that shows another side of the community.

"We understand a lot of people are hurting out there money-wise, lot of people are addicted to drugs and searching for money for that but in this case, i don't know to go so low to break into churches and steal everything from laptop computers to money out of donation jars, it certainly shows the underside of our community," said Brett Wilson with the Washington County State's Attorney Office.

Court documents show that Hymes cashed at least three checks to himself using Mount Lena United Methodist Church's checkbooks. Money that church members say would have been given to the community.

"It's upsetting you know you loose that sense of security and as a church we try to help the community with mission work and everything so they're actually taking money from us that couldn't be used for the betterment of the community in some other regard," said Mertz.

Since then, they've added more locks to the church's doors in hopes that something like this won't happen again.

Both Randy Miller and Michael Hymes are being held without bond at the Washington County Detention Center until their sentencing hearings later this year.

Currently, the state is recommending 30 years sentences for both Miller and Hymes with some time suspended if they continue to cooperate in the continued investigation and making sure all the church damages are repaired.

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