City police arrested a Brooklyn coupled today for spray painting graffiti on a stone wall of the historic St. Mary’s Church as part of a self-made music video, according to the department.
Officers were called to St. Mary’s on North Main Street at 11 a.m. April 16 when the graffiti was discovered, stated city police Lt. Michael Strangeway. The paint had appeared overnight on the back of the church and read, “Welcom to the Bad Dimension (sic),” according to police.
As part of the investigation, Officer Jesse Abbott of the city’s Office of Community Policing started hunting through Facebook for information regarding the vandalism and discovered a YouTube music video that depicts the vandalism, said Strangeway in a phone interview. In the video, a man in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt spray paints the message unto the church, while a woman in fishnet stockings, a tank top and heart sunglasses rides in a shopping cart in a grocery store.
After studying the video, Abbott began scouring the Northeast portion of the city that corresponded to details in the film, Strangeway said. Along Clinton Avenue Extension near Parkwood Drive, Abbott spotted a vehicle with California license plates that was similar to one in the video and that was now parked in an apartment building’s lot, he noted.
Abbott spoke with the apartment building’s owner and discovered an apartment in the building was rented on April 15 to a couple staying for one month, Strangeway said. When officers knocked on the couple’s door, they immediately recognized the pair as the people depicted in the music video, he said.
The pair, Jay Blanch, 29, and his wife, Rebecca Blanch, 29, explained to police they had travelled to Cortland from their Brooklyn home in order to escape the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, Strangeway stated. Rebecca Blanch filmed Jay Blanch as he spray painted St. Mary’s Church, he said. On her Facebook page, officers discovered Rebecca Blanch had posted, “Hi we're bored in upstate new york-so here's an evil morty cover. Watch us rip a town apart” (sic).
Father Joe Zareski said in a phone interview this afternoon he was confident the spray paint could be cleaned up.
While the St. Mary’s congregation started earlier, the stone church was built in 1913, Zareski said.
“It’s a landmark,” he said. “And we hope it goes for another hundred years.”
This reporter contacted the Blanchs for comment through Facebook messenger but did not receive a reply.
Jay Blanch and Rebecca Blanch were each charged with two misdemeanors: fourth-degree criminal mischief and making graffiti. They were issued tickets to appear at 9 a.m. June 1 in City Court.