Thursday, July 19, 2007

Talk about Bizare

I guess we have all kinds here in the Diocese of La Crosse...

Holy Ghost burglarized again

When a jar of coins went missing from the rectory of Holy Ghost Church on Sunday, it seemed all too familiar to police investigators.The crime smelled of Alvin J. Coffman, who was convicted of similar crimes in Chippewa Falls in 2003, 2004 and 2006. However police believed he was serving time in a New York prison.

Over the weekend officers had a hunch Coffman - also known as Alan Kranz, Al Kaufman and a handful of other aliases - was back in town.

He was.But by early Tuesday morning, the man with a penchant for terrorizing priests was back behind bars.

At 2 a.m. Tuesday, officers crashed through the doors of room 36 at the Indianhead Motel, 501 Summit Ave., took Coffman into custody and confiscated over $200 in dimes and $35 in change.

Police believe the money came from a Sunday burglary at the Holy Ghost rectory and a Monday night burglary at the Notre Dame rectory, where $300 in cash was taken from an envelope in a desk, and about $100 in damage was reported from a forced entry.

Coffman is suspected of having his first contact this year with the Holy Ghost parish Friday. Despite stealing from the rectory on three prior occasions, Coffman and Father Edmund Doerre had never met face to face - until then.

That’s when Coffman, who identified himself as Robert Lange, went to the rectory, said he was in need of a place to stay, and received a lodging voucher from Doerre - the very man he had previously victimized.

Twisting this tale even further, Coffman checked into the hotel as Lange, stating a home address of 412 S. Main St., Chippewa Falls. That’s the address for the Holy Ghost rectory where Doerre resides.

Coffman was taken into custody on a felony warrant for burglary, theft, and driving a vehicle without the owners consent. Those charges stem from an incident when Coffman was in Chippewa Falls last summer.

That’s when he was involved in his third burglary of the Holy Ghost rectory. He then stole Father Doerre’s 2005 Honda Civic, which Coffman ended up rolling over in the town of LaFayette. When he was found hiding behind rolls of carpet in a LaFayette barn, he had in his possession coins that had been reported stolen from Doerre at the rectory.

Coffman’s habit of victimizing Doerre dates back to March 2003, when he gained entry to the rectory and stole several containers and collections of coins Doerre had been keeping. Coffman served 22 days in jail and was then extradited to New York, where he was wanted on charges in that state.

By October 2004, Coffman had returned to the Chippewa Falls area. This time he was arrested for a motor vehicle theft (not Doerre’s). But there was evidence he had burglarized the rectory again because inside the vehicle was a jacket belonging to Doerre. A check of the rectory revealed that coins were again missing.

After 90 days in jail on the motor vehicle theft, Coffman was sent back to New York, where he was incarcerated again. After his release in 2006, he absconded from probation and a warrant for his arrest was issued. Soon afterwards he ended up in Doerre’s overturned car in Lafayette.Police say they weren’t expecting Coffman to be released on parole from the New York jail until later this month or early August.

But he was released early and apparently absconded from probation. A New York warrant for his arrest is likely, according to police officials.

A year ago authorities were unsure if Coffman would ever serve time for burglarizing the rectory and stealing Doerre’s car because the New York charges took precedence.

The alternative, police thought, was to wait patiently at the rectory for Coffman to come back on his own.

They just never thought it would be this soon.

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