WAUKESHA COUNTY -- They were expecting money, but instead got gold chalices. Two men accused of stealing a safe from St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Waukesha made court appearances on Thursday, January 26th.
49-year-old Vincent Daniels of Waukesha faces one count of burglary of a building or dwelling, as party to a crime, repeater -- and one count of theft of movable property, greater than $10,000, as party to a crime, repeater.
37-year-old Travis Heath of Waukesha faces one count of burglary of a building or dwelling as party to a crime and one count of theft of movable property, greater than $10,000 as party to a crime.
Police responded to the church around 5:00 a.m. on January 16th after staff members arrived at the church and noticed a safe containing the chalices had been stolen.
The suspect(s) fled prior to police arrival.
According to the criminal complaint, police caught a break when an informant told a detective Daniels and his girlfriend were overheard talking about a safe that was in their room that they needed to get rid of.
The complaint says Daniels' girlfriend told police "she was shocked to see what was inside, which appeared to be two gold cups."
She also stated, "Daniels and Travis thought there was going to be cash inside the safe, and not the cups."
During the booking process, prosecutors say Daniels told an officer he intended to melt down the chalices, but instead, they were found in Milwaukee -- one of them disassembled near a pawn shop.
St. Joseph's pastor called the chalices "priceless." They were created in 1938 and belonged to another beloved pastor. He said parishioners had been praying for their return.
"When I told them the bad news, there were people crying. People were very upset because of the meaning of those two chalices so I cannot wait to see the face of joy of some of my parishioners," Father Javier Bustos said.
Daniels and Heath made their initial appearances in court in this case on Thursday.
Cash bond was set at $20,000 for Daniels, and a hearing was scheduled for January 27th.
Cash bond was set at $7,500 for Heath and a hearing was set for February 2nd.