Carl L. Rutherford

WOODSTOCK – Authorities say a DNA hit led them to arrest a West Virginia man accused of breaking into a Shenandoah County church in 2017.

Carl L. Rutherford remains held without bond at Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail on charges of destruction of property and breaking and entering while armed with a deadly weapon. Rutherford, 36, of 82 Golden Trout Drive, Wardensville, West Virginia, was scheduled to appear in Shenandoah County General District Court on Friday but his case was rescheduled for Aug. 23.

Authorities accuse Rutherford of breaking into the Columbia Furnace Church of the Brethren, 20910 Senedo Road, Edinburg, sometime between Sept. 24-27. While inside, authorities claim, Rutherford damaged church windows, a door and stained-glass windows.

Rutherford appeared in Shenandoah County Circuit Court on Wednesday for a hearing to consider a motion by the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney to keep Rutherford incarcerated without bond.

Retired Judge Dennis L. Hupp ultimately granted a motion made by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Strecky who had appealed a decision by a lower court judge to grant Rutherford a bond. Strecky explained that investigators collected DNA from the church that eventually led authorities to a “cold hit” and Rutherford as a match.

Strecky argued in her appeal of the lower court’s decision that Rutherford has a “massive criminal history” in numerous states and no ties to the community.

Assistant Public Defender Peter McDermott told the judge that if the court allowed Rutherford to remain free on bond, the defendant would live at his aunt’s house in Wardensville. Rutherford’s aunt testified and concurred with McDermott, noting that her nephew has been staying at her home roughly two miles from the Virginia border for about seven weeks.

Hupp sided with Strecky, noting that Rutherford’s “criminal history speaks volumes.”

The Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office arrested Rutherford on the two charges June 5. A district court judge appointed the public defender’s office to represent Rutherford. Judge Amy Tisinger granted Rutherford’s release on a $2,500 secured bond under the condition that the defendant stays with his aunt in Wardensville.

Tisinger notes in her June 7 order granting bond that the prosecutor advised Rutherford’s arrest came as a “cold hit” but that officers did not file a criminal complaint or such a document did not appear with a case files. Tisinger goes on to note that Rutherford has a criminal history but the magistrate stated he appeared polite and cooperative. The judge notes that Rutherford’s aunt indicated he could stay with her in Wardensville

The Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office obtained a warrant in late January for Rutherford’s arrest. Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office investigator B.C. Gochenour filed an affidavit in the circuit court Wednesday for a search warrant to take a sample of Rutherford’s DNA.

The criminal complaint used to obtain the search warrant states that investigator R. Poe responded to the reported break-in and recovered several swabs of red stains from in the building. The swabs were submitted to the Department of Forensic Science. The department analyzed the swabs against other submissions in the Florida DNA data bank and found it to be consistent with Rutherford, according to the affidavit. Authorities later arrested Rutherford based on that information.

– Contact Alex Bridges at abridges@nvdaily.com