Jesus statue returned to church |

Jesus statue returned to church

Figures of baby Jesus, Joseph and a lamb returned to manger

Zach Fridell

— After a mysterious disappearance in late December, the baby Jesus, Joseph and a lamb have returned to the Nativity scene at Holy Name Catholic Church in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Father Ernest Bayer said a pair of men who were walking from a bar to a house party on Pine Street last week apparently stole the three figures.

"They showed up, and Joseph and Jesus and a lamb were guests of honor at a party on Pine Street that evening," he said.

The three figures were slightly damaged because they apparently were ripped off their plywood base in the Nativity scene, Bayer said. A parishioner reported them missing Dec. 28, but it's not known which day they were taken.

Steamboat Springs police Detective Nick Bosick said the figures were returned through a tip to Crime Stoppers. He arranged to pick them up from the downtown house, and they were back in the manger by Wednesday.

Bosick said police have suspects in the case and that the people may face misdemeanor theft charges if the church decides to press charges. Bayer said members of the church and Knights of Columbus, the group that installed the pieces, will determine how much it will cost to repair the pieces before they make their decision.

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The total cost of the Nativity, including Mary, an angel and another lamb, was $2,862, Bayer said.

"It's really interesting; why would they want to have Jesus at their party?" Bayer said. "I guess everybody is looking for Jesus."

The Catholic Christmas holiday lasts from Christmas Eve until this coming weekend, when Catholics will celebrate the baptism of Jesus.

Bayer said that after services Sunday, the figures will be moved into storage until next year.

Crime Stoppers will determine whether a reward is justified for the tips that led to the return of the figures.

— To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208 or e-mail