Suspect Charged in Cathedral Vandalism Released to Halfway House

Police and prosecutors also believe Jiamei Tian is connected to several acts of similar vandalism, including at the Lincoln Memorial, a church and at a Smithsonian statue

A woman charged with defacing the Washington National Cathedral with green paint was released to a halfway house during a hearing Friday.

Jia M. Tian, 58, has been charged with damaging two chapels within the cathedral with a soda can of green paint on Monday.

The judge said that continuing to hold her without bond breaches the presumption of innocence under the law. Tian was ordered to undergo electronic monitoring and is not permitted to have social visits at the halfway house, reported News4's Mark Segraves.

She is due in back court Aug. 26.

During Friday's hearing, authorities said that a footprint found at the Lincoln Memorial in the wake of a vandalism there last week matches the shoe Tian was wearing when she was arrested at the National Cathedral on Monday, Segraves reported.

Although Tian has only been charged in the cathedral case, authorities say they believe she's connected to several similar acts of vandalism: at the Lincoln Memorial, at a Logan Circle church and on the pedestal of a Smithsonian statue.

A high-ranking police source told News4 that Tian is seen on surveillance video at the Lincoln Memorial.

However, another detective who took the stand during Friday's hearing said he personally hadn't seen any video evidence of Tian there.

Earlier in the week, Tian was ordered held without bond after prosecutors called her a flight risk and a danger to the community. They said she apparently came to D.C. solely with the intent to deface property.

Tian has a Chinese passport. She was traveling in Washington on a tourist visa that expired July 27.

The defense said earlier in the week there was no evidence linking Tian to the other vandalism cases.

Authorities haven't revealed a possible motive.

The green paint has proven difficult to remove. Crews are trying to use products that won't damage the defaced marble and granite.

On Thursday, six days after the damage at the Lincoln Memorial was discovered, National Park Service officials said that three areas of the Lincoln statue still show faint signs of green staining.

Conservators are hoping a fourth cleaning process will remove the last signs of the vandalism.

At Luther Church in Logan Circle, crews have been able to remove all the paint from the wood inside the church, but the pipes of the organ will have to be removed and shipped to Georgia to be cleaned by hand. The white paint used in that incident was mixed with feces and urine.

Church officials said insurance will cover most of the cost. The church is expected to be open for services Sunday.

NOTE: Police initially identified the suspect as Jiamei Tian.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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