Boston woman accused of defacing churches, memorials across city

Boston woman accused of defacing churches, memorials across city

BOSTON — A 53-year-old Hyde Park woman was arrested Thursday afternoon for vandalizing graves in a cemetery, according to Boston police.

Police officers said they saw Deborah Gideon throw red powder into the air and decided to follow her car as it drove through Mount Hope Cemetery, where they say she threw the same red powder on gravestones.

According to police, officers found a spray bottle, a gallon of red liquid, containers of colored salt, powdered juice mixes and olive oil in her car when they stopped her. Boston Police have been tracking Gideon for months.

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Police say Gideon, a nurse for more than two decades, is allegedly responsible for recent vandalism to churches and memorials across the city, including the World War II monument in South Boston and churches in Dorchester.

Police say Gideon has been charged with vandalism of a gravestone and malicious destruction of property over $1,200 for Thursday's incident. She appeared in court Friday where a judge ordered her to meet with a court-appointed psychologist.

The psychologist told the judge she's concerned Gideon may suffer from mental illness involving hyper-religiosity, believing she's a victim of Christian persecution and reportedly told officers during her arrest, "God is going to burn you in hellfire." She told them she was simply "casting prayers on buildings" and "anointing persons with the blood of Jesus."

Prosecutors say they believe Gideon would have continued her mission and said she had a list of other target addresses on her when she was arrested.

She reappeared in court Friday afternoon where she pleaded not guilty to vandalism and was ordered to undergo a 20-day mental health evaluation.

Bail arguments will be made May 8.

Police reports reveal Gideon has also targeted people. She was charged with assault in 2017 for allegedly "spraying two construction workers" at an Eversource site with red oil, telling police, "I was spraying the ground and site with poisonous gas. I had to bless it."

Cleanup efforts continue at South Boston WWII memorial doused with oil