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Maranatha suspect charged in Methodist church burglary
Brantley was outside another church when arrested, police say
0610jeremy brantley
Jeremy Brantley

The man accused in the May 11 burglary of Oakwood’s Maranatha Christian School was charged Wednesday with a church burglary that occurred 10 days later.

Jeremy Nathan Brantley, 26, was charged with burglary and theft by taking in a May 21 burglary at Gainesville First United Methodist Church on Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville Police Lt. Brian Kelly said.

Kelly said police also "could make a pretty good hunch" that Brantley was casing another church just before he was picked up on unrelated traffic offenses earlier this month.

Kelly said on June 2 police were dispatched to Lakewood Baptist Church on Thompson Bridge Road for a report of a suspicious person near the church.

The person left in a car before police arrived, but was pulled over in the area by a Hall County Sheriff’s deputy, Kelly said.

Brantley, the driver of the car, was brought to the Gainesville Police Department to be interviewed about the Methodist Church burglary but declined to make a statement, Kelly said. Brantley was then taken to jail on traffic charges.

Gainesville police and Hall Sheriff’s investigators continued looking into Brantley, and on Monday in Forsyth County they recovered a safe stolen from Maranatha Christian School.

The safe, which still contained documents and some $7,000 in checks, was dumped in a wooded area off Ga. 369 just inside the Forsyth County line, Kelly said.

Oakwood police were contacted after the safe was found, Kelly said.

On Tuesday, Oakwood police announced they had charged Brantley with the Maranatha burglary, in which a safe containing more than $10,000 in checks and cash was stolen. Oakwood police said they expected other people would be charged in connection with the school break-in.

The May 21 burglary at Gainesville First United Methodist occurred after someone entered through an unlocked back door and stole a video game console, police said. The burglar or burglars then crawled up into the ceiling by removing a ceiling tile and dropped down into a church office, where a small amount of cash was taken.

Kelly said "all involved agencies" are continuing to investigate whether Brantley may be responsible for other burglaries in Oakwood, Gainesville, Hall County or Forsyth County.