Woman Charged With Vandalizing Miami Catholic Church, Desecrating Altar

Illescas was located at her residence wearing the same clothing in the security footage and subsequently arrested.

Alfa Illescas, 44, was arrested and charged in connection with the June 10, 2023, vandalism at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Miami.
Alfa Illescas, 44, was arrested and charged in connection with the June 10, 2023, vandalism at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Miami. (photo: Miami-Dade Police, WPLG Local 10 / YouTube Jun 11, 2023)

A woman has been arrested and charged after she allegedly vandalized St. Timothy Catholic Church in Miami in an attack Saturday, June 10, that police say was motivated by religious prejudice.

According to Miami-Dade Police, Alfa Illescas, 44, was caught on security cameras spray-painting the words “perverts,” “pigs,” “liars,” and an upside-down cross on the church wall, a sign, and columns within the courtyard of the church’s school.

The footage also shows Illescas kicking over trash bins, approaching an altar of the Virgin Mary, and spray-painting a security camera facing the altar, police said.

After investigating further, police discovered that Illescas “pushed” and broke parts of another altar in front of the church.

Illescas was located at her residence wearing the same clothing in the security footage and subsequently arrested.

“Based on the evidence provided, the victim was selected based on their religion and the crimes committed were done so with prejudice,” a police report said.

The estimated cost of damages is $3,000, the report said. Illescas is charged with a felony of criminal mischief. 

“Places of worship are a staple of our community where many go to pray and practice their religious beliefs,” said Miami-Dade Police Department Director Alfredo Freddy Ramirez III.

“I am very proud of the tenacity and hard work of our Homeland Security Bureau investigators to arrest the individual responsible for this pointless crime,” he added.

In a statement to NBC Miami, the Archdiocese of Miami said that parents of children at the church’s school volunteered to clean up the graffiti. 

“This is a tragedy that a sacred place such as a Catholic school and church property are vandalized. It is a hate crime,” the archdiocese told CNA on Tuesday.

“The Archdiocese of Miami and administrators of St. Timothy are fully cooperating with the investigation,” the statement said. 

“The kindness of parents is obvious as they were on-site right away helping to clean up and repair the disgraceful damage,” the archdiocese said. 

“We have learned of the arrest of the quickly identified woman and ask for prayers as all who are now walking this journey — those frightened, those angry, and for the suspect that peace of heart may be found.”

Ana Fernandez, a parent of a child at the school, told NBC Miami that she was concerned but not surprised at the attack “because Christians are under attack and you see it all over the world.”

The ‘Christ in Death’ statue after restoration is on display at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo, North Dakota.

Grandmother and Her Grandchildren Work to Restore Fargo Cathedral Statue Destroyed by Vandal

Marilyn Loegering’s artistic talents have been put to work for years at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo, North Dakota, keeping the statues and artwork in the sanctuary looking their best. So when Loegering was asked by church staff to try to restore the ‘Christ in Death’ statue, she knew it was the perfect opportunity to bring in some help — her grandchildren, a niece, and a friend.