Painting Pranksters Attack Senior's Home

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With her husband gone, 70-year-old Birdie Chapman has been trying to sell a home she can no longer afford at below-market price.

The fact that vandals recently covered her home with graffiti isn't going to make it any easier, but her church has stepped in to provide what comfort and assistance it can.

Chapman thinks the vandalism probably occurred around 1 a.m. Thursday when her Boston terrier started barking. "I didn't get up, but I should have because he's not a barker," Chapman said.

That's when she figures the vandals spray painted three sides of her house in Payson West subdivision. Besides a series of random scribblings, they painted a crude star and profanity, Chapman said.

While she has no idea why her house was singled out, she doesn't think it was a hate crime.

"I just thought it was kids," she said.

A fluorescent light on a post in front of her house makes her yard so bright at night that the vandals covered it with a bucket before they went to work.

Next to the light is a "for-sale-by-owner" sign. Chapman has the house on the market because she can no longer afford to live there on her limited income.

"Since I lost my husband two years ago, I don't need this much room," she said.

Lt. Don Engler of the Payson Police Department said an investigation is in progress and that the department is following up some leads. At this point, he doesn't think it is a hate crime.

"We don't view it as that, but we aren't closing any doors," Engler said. He added that vandalism has been rare in Chapman's neighborhood.

Payson Police Officer Steve Montgomery, who originally investigated the crime, is trying to schedule follow-up interviews with a couple of leads.

"The neighbors think it's kids, but usually with kids, more than one house gets hit," Montgomery said.

Montgomery said they're testing the bucket used to cover the outdoor light for fingerprints.

Chapman and her husband moved to Payson West from Strawberry five years ago.

Despite the fact that she has priced the home $11,000 under appraisal, she has had no takers. The black graffiti isn't going to help.

"I've had two estimates to repaint it, one for $1,100 and one for $1,900," she said.

Chapman's church, First Church of the Nazarene, is offering what assistance it can. According to Pastor David Runion, church members have visited Chapman to lift her spirits and bring food, a church member is going to assist her in coordinating the repainting, and another church member is going to repair her screen door.

Chapman said she hopes her insurance will pay for some of the repairs.

In the meantime, Payson police are continuing their investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to call 474-5177.

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