Jesus statue decapitated in South Carolina, man cites the Ten Commandments as the cause

Charles Jeffrey ShortCharleston Police Department

A concrete statue of Jesus on the lawn of a Charleston, South Carolina church was beheaded Sunday morning, and the vandal was apprehended shortly afterward.

Charles Jeffrey Short was seen by witnesses, and later admitted, knocking the head off the Sacred Heart Catholic Church statue with a sledgehammer.

Short was spotted around 5:45 a.m. on Kings St., chopping away at the six-foot sculpture. After the decapitation, he put the sledgehammer in his backpack, and began walking down Huger St.

Witnesses of the vandalism alerted a patrol officer, who confronted Short. The 38-year-old admitted to the crime.

"I think I used a sledge hammer to strike the statue about six or seven times, because the second or first commandment states to not make an image of a male or female to be on display to the public," he told the Charleston police officer.

Short is likely referring to the first commandment, which reads in part: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth" (Exodus 20:4, King James Version).

Catholic Diocese of Charleston spokesperson Maria Aselage told The Post and Courier that the statue depicted the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus—a Roman Catholic devotion that represents Jesus' love for mankind.

Short was charged with malicious injury to real property, and held in lieu of $ 2,130 bail.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church was also vandalized on Friday morning, Charleston police spokesman Charles Franicis told The Post and Courier.

That day, a statue of Jesus and a child had their heads and hands knocked off. The marble statue was worth about $5,000, according to a church official. Aselage said that the statue had been on the church's property since 1996.

Police are investigating Friday's incident, and a possible connection to Sunday's crime.