HAVERHILL, Mass. (AP) — A homeless woman previously charged with scrawling "666" on a Massachusetts church stole a baby Jesus figurine from another church's Nativity scene on Christmas Day and replaced it with a pig's head, police said Wednesday.
Amarellis Cermeno, 54, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges including destruction to a place of worship in connection with the Dec. 25 desecration at Sacred Hearts Roman Catholic church in Haverhill.
Cermeno appears to have "an obsession" with religious issues, police said. Rather than a hate crime, the desecration was "the act of an individual who appears to be mentally ill," police said.
Cermeno, who is known to look through trash bins for food, probably found the pig's head after it had been discarded by a family having a traditional Christmas pig roast, police said. A parish priest discovered the vandalism on Christmas morning.
Cermeno was arrested on Dec. 30 and charged with writing the number "666" — often associated with the devil — in several places on the La Iglesia Biblica Bautista. She also allegedly threatened a police officer with a large crucifix stolen from Sacred Hearts.
Cermeno is currently undergoing a mental health evaluation.
Mayor James Fiorentini said the case highlighted the need for mental health help for homeless people.
Sacred Hearts pastor the Rev. John Delaney said he and is parishioners are relieved that there has been an arrest but are also praying that the suspect gets the help she needs.