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Corn dog helps catch Virgin Mary statue thieves

Posted at 7:24 AM, May 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-11 07:24:51-04

WAUSAU, WI (WSAW/CNN) - Police were able to catch three suspects and get a statue of the Virgin Mary returned to St. Mary's Catholic Church in Wausau, WI.

It's all thanks to an unusual clue, corn dogs.

In surveillance video, one of the suspects carries the statue with its head facing the ground as another person follows behind.

In another clip it appears a suspect is pushing the statue on its head down the sidewalk.

The three suspects in this footage were Brian Yonker, Miranda Lindner and Katie Kelly, according to police reports.

The trio has admitted to what they did and reached out to the church.

"All of them have reached out to me and expressed their extreme sorrow for what they did and to make amends," said Father Aaron Huberfeld of St. Mary's Catholic Church. "And I believe them all to be sincere."

Now that the statue has been returned safely, Huberfeld is able to see a bit of humor in how it ended up back at the church.

"One of our volunteers who was setting up here that morning was outside and saw the remnants of corn dogs strewn all over," Huberfeld said.

Police were able figure out the corn dogs were bought at the Kwik Trip across the street.

That detail led police to view the gas station surveillance video and as an officer was headed back to the station after reviewing the footage, he spotted the two female suspects outside a home near the police department.

He spoke to them and they admitted to taking the statue.

"(This) reminds us that divine providence also has a sense of humor and we've all certainly had a good chuckle about that," said Huberfeld.

The statue had been taken to Pelican Lake where they were going to bury it, according to a police report.

But after they were caught, they drove back to Pelican Lake, picked it up, and brought it back to police.

Huberfeld now wants to forgive and move on.

"We don't want anyone to go to jail for this. I am very thankful to Wausau PD for their fine work and their diligence in this,” Huberfeld said.

The statue is now sitting safely inside the church.

It'll return to its rightful place on its pedestal in the garden outside during a ceremony on Sunday.

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