Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Man charged in archbishop's burglary last June

A 25-year-old man with a long history of run-ins with the police has been charged with burglary in the audacious break-in at the St. Paul home of Archbishop John Nienstedt last year.

Ramsey County prosecutors charged Kelvin Benjamin Smalls with one count of second-degree burglary Tuesday, two days after Smalls turned himself in to St. Paul police. He was being held in the county jail.

Nienstedt hasn't commented directly on the arrest, "but I'm sure he's pleased the police have done their work and that the case is heading for fruition," said Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Smalls called the police department Sunday, a few days after the department publicly identified him. "He knew because of all the media attention that he was being looked for," said police spokesman Paul Schnell.

Prosecutors say Smalls was identified through DNA testing of blood found in the residence on Summit Avenue.

Among several arrests on a variety of charges in recent years, Smalls was convicted in 2003 of theft and an attempt to commit armed robbery.

Last June 28, staff members called police to the residence when they discovered broken glass on the floor and noted that Nienstedt's closet drawers had been opened.

The break-in occurred in the early morning hours at Nienstedt's residence when a thief climbed onto a first-floor roof and broke into a second-story window. Nienstedt was overseas at the time.

One or more thieves had made off with a safe weighing at least 50 pounds. Inside were seven crosses, three rings, ceremonial pins and a chain.

Initially, archdiocese staff members believed that as many as six bejeweled crosses and several rings that had been worn by former archbishops also had been stolen, but those items turned up in a later search of the archbishop's bedroom.

At the time of the burglary, McGrath observed, "it takes a lot of gall to rob an archbishop."

Only one of the stolen items, a ring produced by the Vatican at the end of the Vatican II council, has been recovered. After police circulated a list of the jewelry, a local pawnbroker turned it over.

"It was just a stroke of luck, thanks to the honesty of the pawnbroker," McGrath said.

Nienstedt, who offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the items, "obviously is hoping the rest will be recovered," McGrath said. "These are objects that have obvious sacred meaning to the archbishop. They're very dear to him." Star Tribune

Audacious Theft by Burglary Pros at Archbishops Dwelling Net Catholic Treasures

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Marshall,
I am apologizing in advance. This is undoubtedly the wrong format to contact you but I have tried other ways and have given up. I was told about your blog in an email I will copy it here:

We checked out your website, and it's just a great idea and a welcome addition to the Church's resources. We'll give you a free ad in the February NewsNet under "For Your Information" section. We are basically an Events Calendar, with other news of interest thrown in.

You might also send your information to: http://www.northlandcatholic.blogspot.com and they may be interested...also ask him (Ray Marshall) if he thinks there are any other Minnesota blogs that may be interested in this story.

The best of luck to you.


My husband and I have started a new website "Exceptional Catholic Minnesota" to be a free resource for local Catholics with disAbilities and was hoping you might consider checking us out and recommending to local Catholics.

Again, I am so sorry I have looked in the phone book and internet and other ways to contact you I couldn't find one. Please delete this message if you need to and God bless you and the work that you do.

Mrs. Monica Duffy