Saturday, August 15, 2009

Burglary suspect bolts, but nun gives chase

Sister Catarina da Silva glanced out the window as she and Sister Connie Boulch prepared to go to morning prayers just before 7 a.m. Thursday at the St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist convent in north Independence.

There, in the middle of a soybean field, was a man carrying a rifle, a handsaw and a pair of boxing gloves.

It didn’t look right.

“People just don’t drive up there unless they know where they are going or unless they are lost,” said Sister Connie, a 59-year-old Sugar Creek native who has been a nun for 33 years.

They jumped into Sister Connie’s white Honda Civic and drove down to the field, which is convent property, to see whether the man was lost or maybe hunting illegally.

“He thought he was in trouble with two nuns coming towards him,” said Sister Catarina, 49, a native of Brazil.

The man was out of breath. When Sister Connie asked him what he was doing in the area, he said he was cutting through the field from a friend’s house.

That didn’t sound right. There are few homes in the area, and the man could not come up with the name of his friend.

He dropped the rifle, handsaw and boxing gloves and ran.

Sister Catarina, who was wearing her brown, ankle-length habit and favorite pair of plastic flip-flops, ran after him. The pursuit stretched across the soybean field and covered about a quarter mile.

“For whatever reason, we were not afraid of him,” Sister Connie said.

Sister Catarina said she was up for the chase.

Sister Connie, who by then had pulled out her cell phone and dialed 911, said: “I thought she might catch him because she is a good runner and he was already tired.”

Police arrested the man in a wooded area just east of the convent in the 700 block of Dickinson Road.

“It was a great effort on everyone’s part, the community coming together,” said Officer Tom Gentry, a spokesman for the Independence police. “They did what they felt was a positive thing, but we certainly don’t want folks to confront criminals.”

Afterward, the nuns said they planned to pray for the burglary suspect, who had not been charged Thursday afternoon. He is thought to have broken into a nearby house.

“I will pray that his life changes so that he doesn’t come to the point when he needs to steal or he needs to break into people’s houses,” Sister Connie said.

Kansas City Star article

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