Student arrested in Churchill graffiti

UPDATE: Wednesday, June 10, 6:15 p.m.

Two questions scrawled over and over by vandals at the Winston Churchill Museum appear to have been answered, at least in part.

Fulton police arrested Victor Calderon, 24, a William Woods commuter student, after receiving an anonymous tip.

"After the search warrant was conducted," said Lt. Andre Cook with the Fulton Police Department "Items of evidence were collected and seized that tied Calderon to the crime."

Police believe Calderon, with the help of an accomplice, left cryptic scrawling's of "Who are we?" and "Why?" on the 17th Century church, Berlin Wall sculpture and Churchill statue, located on the Westminster College campus.

The historic museum is the site of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's famous "Iron Curtain" speech.

An unlikely suspect

Victor Calderon, originally from Houston, Tex., told police the Berlin Wall represented "the fall of tyranny" and he wanted to "add his own graffiti to the sculpture," according to police

That, of course, doesn't explain why he defaced the nearby 17th Century English church and Churchill statue.

Calderon was a commuter student at William Woods and "extremely active" on campus, according to school officials.

School officials tell KRCG News that Calderon was an "excellent artist," and were shocked to find out about his arrest. He was a double major in political and legal studies and graphic design.

Calderon was so active in campus activities - attending cultural, educational, film and athletic events - that he won an award for it and was honored at the university's spring Co-Curricular Honors Banquet in April, a month before the graffiti incident.

Calderon was named "LEAD Champion," according to a news release sent out by the university in April. The school's LEAD program, which he was active in, encourages and rewards campus and community involvement.

No federal charges

Calderon is currently being held at the Callaway County Jail on a $35,000 bond. He's charged with institutional vandalism for spray-painting graffiti on the Churchill Memorial and Berlin Wall sculpture.

He also faces charges for property damage and tampering with a motor vehicle.

Police are investigating the involvement of a potential second subject but didn't offer any details during a news conference Tuesday, citing an ongoing investigation.

While police originally thought three people were behind the graffiti incident, they now believe it was done by two people.

There had been some talk of pressing federal charges because the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Police squashed that Wednesday saying they don't have enough evidence to charge Calderon with a federal crime.

Police wouldn't speculate on how much jail time he could receive.

Original Story, Tues. June 9: Workers have begun removing graffiti at the Winston Churchill Museum in Fulton - and it will cost five grand to fix.

Restoration efforts began Monday on the 17th Century historic Church of St. Mary the Virgin. Three different specialty companies, with special equipment are being brought in to clean up the bizarre graffiti left by vandals more than a week ago.

It will cost $5000 to clean up all the graffiti and most of it should be gone by Friday, according to Westminster College officials.

To clean the graffiti off the church, a Jefferson City company, RNG - which has done work on the Capitol building - has been brought in to help. The St. Louis-based company, the Koch Brothers, has been hired to repair the sculpture containing remnants of the Berlin Wall.

And Russel-Marti Conservation Services, a Columbia-based firm specializing in bronze work, has been brought in to get rid of the silver mustache painted on the Churchill statue. They will begin setting up scaffolding around the statesman on Friday.

While the church's graffiti should be cleaned up by then, work on the statue will take a little longer to remove.

Westminster College runs the Winston Churchill museum. Since they are a private school, tax dollars won't be used to foot the bill for the restoration. The college is hoping their insurance will cover the repair costs and are waiting to hear back from them.

Fulton police believe two or three people are behind the cryptic graffiti, which included phrases like: "Who are we?" and "Why?"

Because the historic church is on the National Register of Historic Places those responsible could face federal charges.

The church was built in London in the 1600's and rebuilt in Fulton in the early 1960's. It was shipped overseas brick by brick.

Churchill delivered his famous "Iron Curtain" Cold War speech at Westminster College in 1946.