Police arrest woman after 11 buildings in downtown Lebanon damaged by spray paint

Few details released

LEBANON, Ind. - Lebanon police are stumped on a motive after a 47-year-old woman was arrested in connection with spray paint vandalism aimed at landmark buildings over the weekend.

Officers arrested Sandra Kay Harlan on one felony and eight misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief Wednesday morning.

"We figured it was a kid (responsible for the damage). We don't know why she did it," Lebanon Police Chief Sam Myers said.

Harlan is charged with scribbling letters and an image of a frowning face on the Boone County Courthouse, the Lebanon Public Library, the local Key Bank, as well as a pharmacy, a music store and other businesses.

Police said all the graffiti was similar, depicting the letters "J" and "K" and a frowning face.

Call 6 Investigators asked Harlan what the images meant, and whether she had committed the vandalism, but she had no comment as she was led away in handcuffs Wednesday morning

As police spelled out their probable cause before the Boone County Superior Court judge, they said the case was cracked after officers went to the local Walmart to look at security video of the spray paint aisle from just before the crimes happened.

Detective Sgt. Tony Bayles said he spotted a woman, later identified as Harlan, paying cash to buy a can of black spray paint and a chew toy for a dog. 

He said the security video showed her driving away in a red Chevy Cavalier.

Surveillance video from the local library and another business showed the same woman spray painting the businesses, and Bayles said a witness had reported seeing a partial license plate number.

Myers said his nephew, who is also a city employee, then decided to cruise through all the city's streets to see if he could locate the car.

"And there it was, as he was on his way home," Myers said.

The car was found in Harlan's driveway, police said, allowing them to obtain Harlan's driver license photo.

Bayles testified that her driver license photo matched the surveillance videos of the crimes, prompting the judge to sign an arrest warrant.

The surveillance video from the library was obtained by the Call 6 Investigators, and it shows a woman walking up and spraying a granite pillar. She then is seen walking away, but then returning to spray the second adjoining pillar.

In an odd twist that police said they couldn't understand, the dog chew toy that was purchased with the spray paint has also become evidence in the case.

On the same night as the spray painting, a local law office had a brick thrown through a window, and the dog toy was tied to that brick. Bayles said the identification tag on the chew toy in the Walmart receipt matched the tag on the chew toy that was tied to the brick.

Harlan was charged with that crime as well.

Police said they have found no tie between the suspect and the buildings that were damaged so the motive remained a mystery.

Harlan is being held in the Boone County Jail on $40,000 bond.

Her home was searched, but police declined to say whether they recovered the spray paint bottle.

Watch RTV6 and refresh this page for updates.

Follow Stephen Dean on Twitter: @deantvnews

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