Man gets probation for burglarizing, ransacking EC church

·2 min read

May 26—EAU CLAIRE — An Eau Claire man will spend four years on probation for ransacking an Eau Claire church on a Saturday night in October 2020.

The man apparently spent the night sleeping under the pastor's desk, police say.

Justin D. Fierke, 38, 1407 Summit St., pleaded no contest this week in Eau Claire County Court to a felony count of burglary.

Two misdemeanor counts of theft were dismissed but considered by Judge John Manydeeds at sentencing.

As conditions of probation, Fierke must successfully complete treatment court, maintain absolute sobriety and undergo any recommended programming or treatment. He must also have no contact with known drug dealers or users.

Fierke was fined $528.

According to the criminal complaint:

A staff member at Chippewa Valley Church, 1805 Goff Ave., arrived at the church Sunday morning, Oct. 25, 2020, to find that someone had been in the building.

The staff member was the first one at the building to get the church ready for the day's service. He arrived to find that both the front and rear doors were unlocked.

Items were strewn about in nearly every area of the church. It appeared as if the suspect was looking for something.

In the kitchen, every drawer and cabinet were left open. All the closet doors in the church were open.

In the sanctuary there is a small alcove for the audio equipment. This area was ransacked, with cables pulled out and items strewn all over.

The pastor's office in the basement was the one area of the church in the most disarray.

The floor of the office was almost entirely covered with papers and other items.

Most of these items did not belong to the church or the pastor. They included numerous vehicle registrations, car insurance cards, owner's manuals for vehicles, vehicle maintenance receipts, cigarette lighter, phone chargers and other items commonly found in vehicles such as gloves and sunglasses.

It was clear someone had been going through cars, stealing the contents of the glove compartments and center consoles, and brought the items to the church.

There was a jacket, sleeping bag and items of clothing under the pastor's desk. It appears the suspect slept under the pastor's desk.

A partly consumed bottle of soda and leftover pieces of breakfast pastry were found in one area of the church.

Police gathered DNA evidence from the food and the soda bottle.

A laptop computer was missing from the church.

On March 29, 2021, Eau Claire police were informed by the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory that DNA evidence gathered at the scene was linked to Fierke.