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Police: Nazareth Man Set Day Care's Doors on Fire

Craig Werkheiser of 31 E. Chestnut St. is charged with institutional vandalism and related offenses; he was released on $15,000 unsecured bail.

The normally bright red doors of the day care attached to St. John's Lutheran Church in Nazareth are charred today -- the result of an early-morning fire a borough man admitted to setting after a night of heavy drinking.

No injuries were reported.

Craig Werkheiser, 27, of 31 E. Chestnut St. is facing charges of institutional vandalism, recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct, according to the Nazareth Borough Police Department.

He was arraigned before District Judge John Capobianco and released on $15,000 unsecured bail.

The school's doors are on the E. Prospect Street side of the church. A note on the doors said, "Day care and church office are OPEN. Please use door in parking lot to enter. Thank you."

According to police, the fire also damaged the carpet runner and tile floor inside the church. The damage estimate is about $4,500.

According to the affidavit of probable cause:

Officer Alan Koch and borough fire marshal Edward Statler, responded to the church around 6:30 a.m. after being asked to photograph the scene. Soon after, Police Chief Thomas Trachta arrived.

Trachta was approached by Janet Kichline, of 38 E. Prospect St. -- across the street from the burnt doors. Kichline said she arrived home around 2:55 a.m. and found a small fire burning in her front yard.

Nazareth police believe Werkheiser started the fire just before Kichline arrived home.

Trachta was then approached by an unidentified man who said the officers "should look at Craig Werkheiser." According to the man, he overheard Werkheiser saying bad things about the church at the Towne House, a bar two blocks from the church.

A few months back, according to the man, Werkheiser allegedly urinated on the church doors.

Trachta contacted Werkheiser and asked him to head to the department's headquarters for an interview. Werkheiser admitted that he set the fire after a night of heavy drinking.

Werkheiser told Trachta that he walked to the church, placed paper in the door handles, and used a lighter to set the paper on fire. He then walked home.

Editor's Note: This article has been changed from its original version. The first version said the doors were to Love A Lot Nursery, when that was incorrect. The entrance affected is used by the church's office and day care, which is different than the nursery school. Love A Lot is located on the other side of the church.

Alicia February 23, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Smh some pppl shouldn't drink
Jennie February 23, 2012 at 01:30 AM
It was not actually Love-A-Lot Nursery School's door. Their door is on the other side of the building. The door that was burned is the main entrance for the Church Office. It is also the entrance for St. John's Lutheran Day Care.
Mallory Vough (Editor) February 23, 2012 at 01:35 AM
I know, Jennie. The article has been updated. The information I was provided earlier was incorrect. Thanks!
Eric Harding February 23, 2012 at 01:47 PM
This is just ridiculous. No matter that he had been drinking, what would posses a man to do this to a church. I am a member of this church and can not come up with a logical reason that he attacked it.
Wendy Martinez February 23, 2012 at 02:35 PM
This is a guy who works @ Gracedale and is responsible for the safety of our Sr's. A COUNTY employee! To do this to a church he must be mentally ill! I wonder if he is the one who was calling in threats about the daycare about a month ago..........
Realname February 23, 2012 at 05:24 PM
That guy is unstable. If I knew he worked at gracedale I'd have called them. He shout be in a cell, padded or whatever the court finds fit...
Realname February 23, 2012 at 05:27 PM
I heard werkheiser is actually a vampire too, I can't believe we have vampires in Nazareth now! Probably came over from Easton...
I.M. Anonymous February 23, 2012 at 07:56 PM
how he "says" the fire was set doesn't seem to jive with how it looks. OR with the smell of gasoline at the church!!!!!!!!
I.M. Anonymous February 23, 2012 at 07:58 PM
I was also wondering if te threats were related. he was overheard "saying bad things" about that place? seriously? WTH?
Scared of Craiger February 24, 2012 at 03:57 PM
He calls himself the Antichrist of Nazareth and Facebook check in to "his casket" ive heard he also drinks blood.
What a dumbass February 25, 2012 at 12:29 PM
I hope he gets jail time. Can't wait to see how him playing vampire goes over in prison.
Kim February 26, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Leave it up to the news crew to make it look worse than it was... it wasn't the day care doors. Too bad the news always adds more drama. ;)
Mallory Vough (Editor) February 26, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Kim, if you'd like to give me a call and tell me why I'm wrong, please do: (610) 390-9770. I was told by Police Chief Thomas Trachta that those doors are used by the day care and church office. The sign next to the door -- and the written sign posted on the doors after the fire -- also indicate that the office and day care normally use that door.
Eric Harding February 26, 2012 at 02:55 PM
It wasn't Love-A-Lot's (the nursery school) doors, but it was St. John's Day Care and Office doors... You can see the sign in the picture! I can verify this as a member of said church. This was properly reported as usual for The Nazareth Patch.
Eric Harding February 26, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Mallory, you are not wrong! Someone else is mis-informed. I can tell you that your article is spot on. I am a member of this church and can tell you that the Day Care (NOT Nursery School, two separate entities) and the Church Office use this door. Keep up the great work!
Mallory Vough (Editor) February 26, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Thank you for helping -- as a member of this church -- to verify my information, Eric. It's appreciated!
Eric Harding February 26, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Well, fact checking can come from a variety of sources.. I help when I can.
Bernadette DelNero February 26, 2012 at 08:05 PM
It is the daycare doors love a lot is preschool and they are on the opposite side of the church and down some stairs.
Bernadette DelNero February 26, 2012 at 08:07 PM
I.F.S. I used to babysit 3 children that I had to bring there to the daycare and those are the doors we went through.

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