DECATUR — The Decatur man accused of taking a baseball bat to the windows of the Decatur Masonic Temple and inflicting massive damage is now linked to similar attacks at Masonic lodges and facilities scattered across Central Illinois.
Howard D. Lovelady Jr. is so far pleading not guilty to seven counts of criminal damage, and those only relate to attacks on the Decatur temple and the Masonic Lodge in Blue Mound.
Blue Mound Police Chief Chad Lamb told the Herald & Review that Lovelady is suspected of being the culprit in other acts of criminal damage in Mattoon, Arcola and Springfield, where two lodges and the Ansar Shrine Center were hit. Lovelady is accused of using a metal baseball bat to smash glass in windows and doors in multiple attacks in January and February.
“This is very unusual,” said Lamb, who has not interviewed Lovelady and said he had no idea what the defendant’s motive might be. “It’s just a bizarre case,” he added.
Giving evidence at a preliminary hearing Wednesday in which probable cause was found to try Lovelady for the Blue Mound attacks, Lamb told Macon County Circuit Court Judge Rodney Forbes that smashed windows at the lodge were discovered on the morning of Feb. 12.
Damage was estimated at around $1,000 and surveillance video captured the suspect driving away in a blue Pontiac car. This same vehicle was seen in the Decatur attacks, and has been linked to the other cases of criminal damage.
Testifying at another preliminary hearing Wednesday against Lovelady in the Decatur temple damage, Decatur Police Detective Jeremy Appenzeller said the Pontiac car’s registration was checked to Lovelady.
All three main doors to the Decatur Masonic Temple, 224 W. William St., remain boarded up after the glass was smashed.
Appenzeller said the car was found parked outside Lovelady’s apartment and a “white metal bat” lay on the front passenger seat.
Under questioning from Macon County State’s Attorney Scott Rueter, the detective said the Decatur Temple had been the victim of multiple attacks during January and February. Each time the perpetrator, who had been caught on video, was seen walking up to the temple wielding a baseball bat before systematically smashing the glass in doors and windows.
A close-up of one set of badly damaged doors at the Decatur Masonic Temple. The repair …….