A well-known Texas pastor is accused of breaking into the home of one of her parishioners on Christmas Eve and attempting to steal electronics, designer handbags and fur coats.
Sandra McGriff, 51, a pastor at The Church of the Living God, in Dallas, claims she is not a thief and was trying to protect valuables at Serita Agnew’s home when police arrived and found her loading valuables into her Jaguar.
Police said a neighbour called after they saw McGriff climb into the house through a broken window. When they got there she was loading items into her car.
They stated that she used another name, attacked officers and slipped out of handcuffs before she was charged with burglary and resisting arrest.
"I'm just, still, just really not believing it," Agnew, who has known McGriff for several years, told Fox News. "She's a powerful pastor … I can't even begin to put my level of rage in words."
According to a Dec. 26 article in The Dallas Morning News, McGriff told officers that a friend had sent her to pick up her coats and that she couldn’t find a key under the doormat so she had to break in through a window.
Agnew said she had not given anyone permission to go into her house or take her property, and that she had talked to McGriff on the phone about an hour earlier, telling her that she was away visiting her daughter.
McGriff, who was released on $26,000 bail on Christmas morning, invited reporters to her home to hear her side of the story on Monday. She told them she had been in the neighbourhood to pick up a peach cobbler from a friend when something told her to go past the house. According to her, she saw two men coming out from the side of the house so she pulled into the driveway and walked around, deciding to climb inside when she spotted the broken window.
"My mistake was I did not call 911," The Dallas Morning News quoted her as saying. "I just used poor judgment."
Agnew's neighbour David Nanez said he saw the woman at the house and they waved at one another. He them saw her hit the window with something, try to get through with a ladder and slip, and then use a bucket to boost herself inside.
He said he didn’t see the two men McGriff mentioned, but he did see her giving police a hard time.
The police report, which has her name as Kathy Robinson, states that she kicked and scratched at an officer.
She said Kathy Robinson was a name she used during her troubled youth and admits to having a criminal record for charges including prostitution.
The Dallas Morning News reported that a public records search lists 14 name variations and six birth dates for McGriff.
She said that during Sunday services she told her congregation what had happened.
"My church was full for support," The Dallas Morning News quoted her as saying. "The people that come to support me brought tears to my eyes."