A cross that was previously reported missing from Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas has been found, according to St. Landry Sheriff Bobby Guidroz.
A tip submitted to Crime Stoppers around 5 p.m. Friday led officers to the location of the cross, Guidroz said in a Facebook post. St. Landry Parish deputies and detectives arrived at a residence in the 100 block of Grapevine Street in Opelousas and located the cross along with a suspect.
Detectives said they were interviewing the suspect as of Friday evening and the cross was taken to the St. Landry Parish Public Safety Complex.
The cross was one of the lone relics that survived when the church was burned by accused arsonist Holden Matthews during a 10-day spree in late March and early April. Mt. Pleasant Baptist was the third church destroyed in Opelousas and Port Barre.
"Our parish is still rebuilding after the church fires and this tipster who took the time to lead my deputies to the cross is a great example of the community coming together to heal as one," Guidroz said.
The cross’s disappearance gained public attention Tuesday when Stephen Juan Ortego, the architect working on the rebuilding project, posted about the suspected theft on Facebook. The cross was being kept on the church’s property while designs for the new church are finalized.
The Rev. Gerald Toussaint said it was unclear when the cross was stolen. Church leadership didn’t realize it was missing until they went to search for it over the weekend to provide measurements for the architectural plans.
“We weren’t worried about it because we thought everything would be safe on the property,” he said.
Ortego said the cross is intended for the new church’s sanctuary, where it will be prominently featured and backlit. While the building couldn’t be salvaged, the congregants wanted to incorporate as many salvageable items as they could into their new worship home, including bricks, the cross and the original church bell, he said.