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Arrests made in connection with church burglaries
Arrests made in connection with church burglaries
                               Box, Brian.jpg      Dean, Cory.jpg
                                             Brian Box                                Cory Dean

Article contributed by The Journal Record

News Editor
HAMILTON - Arrests have been made in connection with a string of burglaries at rural churches in Marion County, Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams said. 
Williams said in an interview with the Journal Record on Monday, Jan. 16, that the suspects were being held on bonds of $241,000 and $226,000 at the Marion County Jail in Hamilton as of presstime on Monday, Jan. 16.
Charged in connection with the burglaries and the fire were Corey Wayne Dean, 21, Brilliant and Brian Keith Box, 22, Winfield, he said. 
Williams said Dean was being held on the larger bond and faces charges of third-degree burglary (five counts), attempted third-degree burglary, second-degree theft of property, shooting into an unoccupied building, second-degree arson, second-degree theft of property, second-degree criminal mischief, and two counts of first-degree theft of property.
His prior arrests include unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, third-degree domestic violence, third-degree criminal trespass, third-degree theft of property, leaving the scene of an accident, reckless endangerment, third-degree assault, first-degree theft of property and third-degree burglary, Williams said. 
Dean was arrested on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at a private residence in Guin. He had been visiting friends at the home, according to Williams. Those living at the home were not involved in the crimes.
He said Box is facing charges for second-degree theft of property, third-degree burglary (five counts), second-degree arson, first-degree theft of property (two counts), second-degree criminal mischief, third-degree theft of property, and third-degree attempted burglary.
His prior arrests include theft of property, third-degree burglar, criminal mischief, third-degree assault, second-degree assault, and driving under the influence, he said.
Williams said Box was arrested two days after Dean during a traffic stop near Winfield. The arrest was made by an officer with the Brilliant Police Department who had spotted the vehicle Box was driving. 
Box was first spotted outside Winfield, with the arrest made on Alabama Highway 253 nears Miles Funeral Home, Williams said.
“Dean had been our prime suspect from Day One,’’ Williams said. “He spends his time over in the Brilliant area and over in Lee County, Miss., where his wife is from. We had a witness from one of the churches who had described a vehicle, so we had been searching for the white pickup truck ever since. We had just not been able to locate him. But we received an anonymous tip of where we could find him.’’
Following Dean’s arrest, the search began for the vehicle Box was believed to be driving.
“All law enforcement in our area was looking for him,’’ Williams said. “This case has been a priority for us. There is a lot of hard work involved in this, so I want to thank all who have assisted us.’’
Williams commended the police departments in Guin, Brilliant, Hamilton and Winfield for their assistance, along with fire departments in Bear Creek and Haleyville in battling the church blaze. He also commended officials with the state fire marshal’s office for rendering assistance in the case.
The recent burglaries date back to Dec. 20, including one at New Bethel Baptist Church.
The incident also involved a fire which gutted the church, which is located on Marion County Road 147 in the Wiley Branch Community.
The sanctuary was a total loss, along with a breezeway connecting the sanctuary to the fellowship hall, which was also heavily damaged by the fire.
Assisting the sheriff’s department in the investigation were officials with the state fire marshal’s office. Authorities in Mississippi were also assisting with the investigation.
In addition to the fire, the break-ins appeared to have focused on musical equipment held inside each church.
Damage was inflicted to the entryway of the buildings in order for those involved to gain entrance to each facility.
Churches targeted during the string of burglaries were: 
• Bethlehem Free Will Baptist Church located at 12610 Alabama Highway 253 in Brilliant.
• Mt. Pleasant Church at 8051 Alabama Highway 44 in Brilliant.
• New Bethel Baptist Church at 1608 Marion County Road 147 in Bear Creek.
• Pleasant Ridge Church of Christ at 2044 Goodwin Creek Road in Haleyville.
• Mt. Zion Church at 2991 Marion County Road 13 in Hamilton.
• Rocky Grove Church at 345 Marion County Road 96 in Hamilton.
• Gravel Springs Church at 4110 Marion County Road 33 in Hamilton.
(When a defendant is charged with a crime, the charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.)
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