The Washington Post

Suspected green-paint vandal released to halfway house

A Chinese woman arrested in connection with the spattering of city landmarks with green paint appeared in D.C. Superior Court Friday, where a judge released her from jail into a halfway house.

Jiamei Tian, 58, whom police believe to be homeless, faces one count of defacing property. She was arrested Monday at Washington National Cathedral shortly after authorities discovered paint spattered in the cathedral’s Bethlehem Chapel and its Children’s Chapel.

Similar acts of vandalism were discovered at the Lincoln Memorial, on the granite base of a statue next to the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall, and in two locations on Thomas Circle: in a church and on a statue of Martin Luther.

Tian has been charged only in connection with the incidents at National Cathedral, but a detective testified Friday that the tread from one of the shoes she was wearing matched a paint footprint found at the Lincoln Memorial.

D.C. Superior Court Magistrate Judge Frederick J. Sullivan ordered Tian released from D.C. Jail and into a halfway house. Sullivan also ordered her to be electronically monitored, and ordered her not to leave on social visits while at the halfway house.

The damage at the Lincoln Memorial was first reported about 1:30 a.m. Friday by people out for a late-night stroll. One of the women told The Washington Post that she discovered two 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottles overflowing with green and white paint, as well as white footprints near the inscription of the Gettysburg Address.

The National Park Service reported Thursday that the cleanup at the Lincoln is nearly complete.

Repairs at the cathedral could take longer. Damage estimates are still coming in: $3,000 in one cathedral chapel and $15,000 in another — with tricky work to repair a paint-splattered reredos, or altarpiece, covered with gold leaf. According to court documents, the gold leaf must be removed to make the repair, but that could cause additional damage.

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.

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