Man who tried to pawn goods stolen from church posted photo with crosses

Priest Bob Young at the church in Eagle River (Photo by BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News)

In a photo posted on his MySpace Web page, Martushev poses with two crosses that the Rev. Bob Young of Holy Spirit Episcopal church believes belong to the church. Martushev has been charged with burglarizing the building in early January. The crosses have not been recovered. (Photo by BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News)

Moisae Martushev's MySpace page, included a photo of himself with crosses believed to have been stolen from Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Eagle River. (Photo by BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News)

Moisae Martushev at his arraignment in the Anchorage jail after being charged with burglarizing churches in Eagle River. (Photo by BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News)

Anchorage Daily News

The Rev. Bob Young of Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Eagle River didn't expect to see his processional cross again after it was stolen from his church in the middle of the night more than two weeks ago.
Then he was directed to a MySpace.com Web page, where a bare-chested teenager posed with a handgun among drifting marijuana bongs. In his other hand, the youth held a cross that Father Bob instantly recognized. When the priest looked closer, he saw the boy also was wearing a cross necklace he wore while leading Sunday mass.
"Oh, jeepers," the 65-year-old priest said in a telephone interview this week.
Police say it's not the first time they've found clues on MySpace -- teenagers are increasingly using the Web site to brag about their exploits.
Moisae Martushev, 18, appeared in an Anchorage court this week, charged with 34 counts of burglary, theft and criminal mischief. He and three others are accused of breaking into a string of Anchorage churches.
While police can't prove the items Martushev is posing with on his MySpace page belong to the church -- they haven't yet recovered the objects -- for Father Bob there is no question.
The disappearance of the processional cross caused much angst for the church. The cross was more than a symbol of God -- it was also a symbol of perseverance for the Eagle River church. It was one of only a few objects that had survived two fires at Holy Spirit Episcopal.
Then, in early January, Father Bob discovered that the church had been broken into. Doors were busted, a fire extinguisher had been sprayed around and the offices were ransacked. Two dollars -- the only money in the church -- was stolen. Days later, the thieves returned and pilfered the processional cross from the sanctuary behind the altar and took Father Bob's necklace cross from his desk.
Looking to steal money is one thing, Father Bob said, but crosses?
"Some of us thought they may be into satanic worship," he said.
The congregation prayed for the thieves.
When a reporter directed Father Bob to Martushev's page this week, the priest's dial-up Internet connection took half an hour to bring up the link. Loud music and nasty lyrics boomed from the computer's speakers.
"Well, I'll be darned," he said as the images slowly appeared.
Marijuana pipes swam around the page -- although Father Bob didn't know that's what they were. Photos of provocatively dressed women from other MySpace pages are listed as Martushev's friends.
"Oh, my, he has a lot of little girls there, doesn't he?"
The longtime priest was shocked and saddened to see the photos.
"It's not satanic in terms of devil worship, upside-down stuff," he said. "But to me, they are angry about something ... They certainly aren't out there marching for Christianity."
Police discovered the site after a tipster called it in, and they arrested Martushev after he tried to pawn some of the other items stolen from churches.
"Kids post things on MySpace with incredible naivete," said Anchorage clinical psychologist Cathy von Hippel, who works with youths.
"There seems to be this grandiosity, like it is a fictitious person. But there are real-life consequences for feigning to be that person. It's not a fictitious thing. It's not a joke. It's not a diary. And it's not private."
"And maybe there is a bit of a wish to be caught," she said. "You know, people do things all the time and they have several levels of feelings about it. Maybe at one level, this guy wants to be busted."