WASHINGTON -- A woman charged with defacing the Washington National Cathedral was carrying a soda can containing green paint when she was arrested, and she has been linked to at least four other incidents of vandalism, including at the Lincoln Memorial, according to prosecutors and court documents.
Jia M. Tian, 58, appeared in D.C. Superior Court Tuesday alongside a Mandarin translator. Police had previously identified her as Jiamei Tian.
The woman was arrested Monday at the cathedral, where she is accused of using green paint to deface an organ and decorative woodwork in two separate chapels. She’s been charged with defacing and destroying private property. A judge on Tuesday ordered her held without bond.
Authorities believe the green paint vandalism was part of a pattern of similar acts. Green paint was discovered splattered onto the Lincoln Memorial early Friday morning, and it was found later Friday on a statue outside the Smithsonian headquarters on the National Mall.
The woman, who has a Chinese passport, arrived in Washington a few days ago and was traveling on an expired visa, prosecutors said. Police said she had no fixed address but that she told officers she lived in Los Angeles.
According to court documents, the woman is also suspected of vandalizing a statue of Martin Luther on Thomas Circle in downtown Washington, which was also hit with green paint.
Following her arrest, a witness contacted police and reported that the woman had been seen attending a service at a church less than a block from Thomas Circle, according to court documents. The witness reported that the woman was carrying three bags with her. After she left, the witness found that a pipe organ in the church had been splattered with white paint, urine and feces, documents show.
Tian was arrested inside the cathedral’s Children’s Chapel on Monday afternoon, shortly after the still-wet green paint was discovered there. When a police officer approached her, she walked away and placed the soda can with green paint inside one of three bags that were sitting on chairs in the chapel, documents show. She also had green paint on her clothing, shoes and body, according to the documents.
She was wearing a multicolored sock on her right arm, and a similar sock was found in a trash can in a bathroom at the cathedral on top of a can of green paint, according to the documents. The bags placed in the chapel also had cans of green paint in them, the documents show.
Cleanup crews have been working for the past few days to remove the paint from the Lincoln Memorial. Cleanup and restoration work at the cathedral was estimated to cost $15,000. The Episcopal cathedral serves as the nation’s spiritual home and has hosted state funerals and inaugural prayer services.