Church secretary arrested for stealing

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

A former church secretary has been arrested for thefts of more than $20,000 from First Baptist Church, Cape Girardeau police said Tuesday.

Sherry Rena Davis, 34, of McClure, Ill., is charged with stealing and forgery, accused of writing checks using church accounts and keeping the money.

Davis spent about 14 years managing the office for First Baptist Church at 926 Broadway.

An arrest warrant alleges that on Aug. 31, Davis forged two checks to herself and one to Cingular Wireless.

The Rev. Jay White said Davis, who is not a member of the church's congregation, left her job at the church in mid-December. White has been pastor of the church since August.

Citing personnel issues as well as an ongoing investigation, White declined to say whether the accusations against Davis were connected with her leaving the church.

A probable cause statement signed by police Lt. Mark Majoros says Davis illegally obtained more than $20,000 from the church during 2001.

White confirmed that at least that much was stolen from the church last year, but the number may be higher.

"We're still trying to figure out how much is missing," he said.

White said the missing money came from tithes and financial gifts from members of the congregation and was not covered by insurance. If the money isn't repaid, the church has no other recourse, White said.

The congregation consists of about 250 people.

Davis was arrested Tuesday in Cape Girardeau and is being held in the Cape Girardeau County Jail on a $25,000 cash-only bond.

She's charged with two class C felony counts of stealing more than $750 and three class C felony counts of forgery.

Cape Girardeau assistant prosecutor Ian Sutherland said no other arrests are currently pending in the case, but the investigation continues.

abuchanan@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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