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1 charged in Maranatha school burglary; more arrests expected
Jeremy Nathan Brantley

One person was charged Tuesday in connection with last month’s burglary at Maranatha Christian Academy, and authorities expect more arrests.

Meanwhile, the president of the financially strapped school where burglars took a safe containing more than $10,000 in checks and cash said, "what was intended for evil, God meant for good."

"We’re grateful," the Rev. Rod Bell Jr. said.

"We prayed, and we knew this would be found out."

Oakwood Police Capt. Andy Smith said 26-year-old Jeremy Nathan Brantley of Gainesville, who already was in the Hall County jail on unrelated traffic offenses, was charged Tuesday with burglary.

Oakwood and Gainesville police investigators on Monday night found a safe in Forsyth County that was stolen during the burglary, Smith said.

More than $7,000 in checks also was recovered, he said. Many of the checks already had been canceled after the burglary. No cash was immediately recovered.

Additional arrests are expected, Smith said.

Smith would not elaborate on the specific location of the stolen safe or how Brantley came to be a suspect, but said authorities can place him at the scene. Brantley has not made a statement to investigators regarding the burglary, Smith said.

An Oakwood police officer making rounds outside the school early on the morning of May 11 found a door ajar. An office safe containing more than $10,000, much of it in checks, was missing. Most of the money was from a fundraising auction held the previous Saturday.

Smith said Brantley has no known connection to the school and does not live nearby.

Local reaction to the burglary was swift and strong.

Since the break-in, new donations have come in steadily to the struggling school, which lost 25 of its 108 students during the school year because of the financial hardships of some students’ families.

After the burglary, one donor who wished to remain anonymous wrote the school a check for $10,000.

"We’re grateful to the community, which has just shown such an outpouring of concern," Bell said. "It put a light on us."

Bell said he and others at the school felt the burglars would be brought to justice eventually.

"The scriptures are pretty clear," he said.

"Your sin will be found out, though the timing is not always what we would like it to be. I’m thankful for the Oakwood police and their hard work."

Bell said the best news is, after doubts about whether the school would continue this fall, "we’re going to press on for a new school year."

"We’re thankful for our present circumstances," he said.