CROWN POINT — Both of the men charged with burglarizing a Hammond church and damaging every room have been released pending trial, records show.

Aaron J. Vanoppens, 23, and Nicholas D. Reding, 22, both of Hammond, each appeared in court this week. Not guilty pleas have been entered on their behalf.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell ordered Vanoppens released from the Lake County Jail on Wednesday with a GPS monitor and wrap-around services. She also required he work on obtaining his GED.

Reding appeared before Boswell on Tuesday without an attorney. Reding who posted a $3,000 cash bond June 10, has a formal appearance set for June 25.

Vanoppens' bond was also set at $30,000 surety or $3,000 cash.

Vanoppens requested a bond review hearing Wednesday, because his family was unable to afford that amount, defense attorney Michael Campbell said.

"I would remind the community he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," Campbell said after court. "Because the case is ongoing, I'm not able to comment further."

A custodian at Faith United Church of Christ, 3030 175th St., discovered the damage the morning of May 29, Lake Criminal Court records state.

An altar, an organ, restrooms, a display case and an office were damaged. The custodian also found a ceiling had fallen, and glass, mirrors and porcelain were shattered. 

The vandals wrote "666" on a window outside of the pastor's office and "Hail Satan" on a printer, church members said. Police said the case was "a very juvenile crime of opportunity" and was not believed to be hate-related.

A church elder told police the damage may cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair, records state.

Vanoppens' next court date is set for July 31.


Public Safety Reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.