San Juan County man formally charged, accused of desecrating two Aztec churches with graffiti

Court records showed arrest warrant had not been served

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • Jeffrey Schoeller,​​​​​​​ 57, is accused of fourth-degree felony counts of desecration of a church and arson (over $500 but not more than $2,500) along with two misdemeanor counts of desecration of a church.
  • Schoeller is accused of desecrating the St. Joseph Church at 500 N. Mesa Verde Ave. two times and starting a fire at the church, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.
  • When officers spoke to Schoeller, he didn’t explicit confirm or deny his involvement in the three incidents, per court documents.

FARMINGTON — A San Juan County man has been accused of desecrating two Aztec houses of worship along with allegedly starting a fire at one of the churches.

Jeffrey Schoeller, 57, is accused of fourth-degree felony counts of desecration of a church and arson, along with two misdemeanor counts of desecration of a church, according to the criminal complaint.

Schoeller’s arrest warrant was still active on the morning of Nov. 9 and he did not have legal representation, according to court records.

The Aztec Police Department issued a Nov. 8 news release, announcing charges had been filed against the suspect.

Schoeller is accused of desecrating the St. Joseph Church at 500 N. Mesa Verde Ave. two times and starting a fire at the church, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. The defendant is also accused of desecrating the Aztec Church of Christ at 115 Hartman Place.

A fire damaged a structure on Sept. 29 on the property of the St. Joseph Church at 500 N. Mesa Verde Ave. in Aztec

Detective Sgt Heather Knibbs of the Aztec Police Department did not identify the defendant or what possible charges he could face when she spoke to The Daily Times on Nov. 5. The charges were filed on Nov. 8, according to court records.

The arrest warrant affidavit details the investigation by Aztec police over several weeks.

Schoeller allegedly started a fire at St Joseph Church around Sept. 29, which damaged a small building and statue on the church’s property.

The affidavit did not attach a cost to damages from the fire. Based on the criminal charge, it was more than $500 but less than $2,500.

He is also accused of throwing red automotive paint on two of the church’s doors, a brick exterior wall, a walkway and two concrete plant holders.

The damage from the red paint was estimated at $2,000 to $5,000, according to court documents.

There were no damage estimates listed from when Schoeller allegedly spray painted the word “evil” on St. Joseph Church on Nov. 1 and the Church of Christ around Nov. 4.

More:Aztec police have a suspect after two churches were vandalized during four incidents

The St. Joseph Church at 500 N. Mesa Verde Ave. in Aztec was vandalized on Nov. 1 by an unidentified suspect who spray-painted the church's exterior wall.

Both charges were listed as under $1,000 of possible damages, according to the criminal complaint.

A store clerk on Nov. 3 identified Schoeller as the man in security camera footage and called police, according to the affidavit. The worker identified the defendant from a photo left by police.

Police also found a white passenger car seen in the same video footage at Schoeller’s residence.

When officers spoke to Schoeller, he didn’t explicitly confirm or deny his involvement in the incidents, according to court documents.

Schoeller laughed at one point when asked about the incidents  and also claimed there were too many “bad things” happening and mentioned something about a “spiritual attack," according to the affidavit.

It was the day after the police interviewed Schoeller that the graffiti on the Church of Christ was found.

The doors of the St. Joseph Church at 500 N. Mesa Verde Ave. in Aztec were vandalized on Oct. 15 when someone threw red automotive paint on the doors and part of the exterior wall.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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More:Aztec police have a suspect after two churches were vandalized during four incidents