Man Charged With Stealing, Shredding Bibles

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Maryville, Blount County (WVLT) - A Tennessee newcomer is charged with one count of burglary, but Blount County Sheriff's investigators believe that 53-year-old Timothy Carl Clark likely has been breaking into churches for five months, taking only the Bibles.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd reports everybody involved wonders whether they're dealing with a simple thief, a man with a grudge, or a mental illness.

The consensus may be, all three.

In a man his father says, once was married, and helping NASA build rockets in California, but who apparently been a prisoner of his own demons, for more than a decade.

"It was becoming very alarming. We have children that play out," says Allen Sharp, a neighbor of the suspect. "We didn't know exactly who was doing this, and what they're intentions were at the time."

Bible pages, stuffed in mailboxes all over South Knox County's Dovington subdivision.

At first, Allen Sharp figured it was a high schoolers prank, but when it kept happening all summer. "As a neighborhood, we actually tried to set up 24 hour surveillance and actually tried to catch the culprit ourselves."

"At that point, we just felt like he was someone coming in and looking for some spiritual guidance," he says.

Instead, two pastors at Maryville's Broadway Baptist Church, would find a stranger in their sanctuary Monday afternoon, leaving, with a bag of Bibles.

"It was only later, that we found that there had been a number of our churches had been broken into," says Pastor Robert Brown, from Broadway Baptist Church.

So they turned over the license number.

That led Blount County Sheriff's Deputies to arrest Tim Clark at the home he shares with his parents, just down the street from Allen.

"You're relieved that the culprit has been apprehended in one sense. And the next sense it's your neighbor," says Allen.

"We don't know what motivates this man, we do know he has some anti-beliefs naturally, but it's not against one particular church," explains Blount County Sheriff James Berrong.

Off-camera, Tim Clark's father says his son is a diagnosed schizophrenic, on medical disability more than 11 years, a sick man who needs to be back on his medication.

"We're dealing with somebody who's broken the law," says Sheriff Berrong.

Burglary, the sheriff says.

Doctors, and spiritual counselors will have to handle anything beyond that. Which leaves pastor and neighbor, conflicted.

"Our motivation throughout all this was not necessarily to bring punishment, or jail or anything like that. But rather to get him some help," says Pastor Brown. "For nothing else, to ease the minds of the neighborhood. For our well being, for our safety."

Timothy Carl Clark's in a private cell of the Blount County jail, held on $50,000 bond, due back in court next Monday, where presumably, his attorney could request a mental evaluation.

His father says he trying to make sure he gets his prescribed medicine, but the sheriff says he's received no requests yet.