Four people who were arrested for allegedly breaking into a historic church in Litchfield early Sunday morning were ghost hunting, Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze said.
The four, three men and one woman all in their 20s, apparently heard stories describing the church and neighboring cemetery as haunted and decided to check it out for themselves, the Litchfield Independent Review reports.
"Alcohol played a role in their poor decision to cause damage and break in to the church," Cruze said, according to the paper.
Sheriff's deputies were on their way to the church shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday because the burglar alarm had gone off, when they saw a vehicle in the area.
They pulled it over and arrested the four occupants on suspicion of breaking into and damaging the church, according to WCCO.
Sheriff's deputies found several of the church's windows were broken as well as a window of an outbuilding on the property. They're still investigating whether anything was taken, WCCO reports.
Three of the suspects are from Sioux Falls, S.D., and one is from Victoria, Minn., according to the sheriff's department.
They were booked at Meeker County Jail on suspicion of burglary and criminal damage to property. Their initial court appearances are scheduled for Tuesday morning.
About Ness Lutheran Church
Ness Church was founded in 1858, and is one of the state's oldest historical sites and the first organized church in Meeker County, according to its Facebook page. It's located about five miles south of downtown Litchfield, about 60 miles west of Minneapolis.
The church cemetery is the final resting place for the first people killed in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.
In part because of that history, stories have circulated for decades that the church and cemetery are haunted by the ghosts of Sioux Indians and a little girl named Annie. Some say the church lights come on by themselves in the middle of the night, and apparitions can be seen around the grounds.
The church leaders emphasize that there are no ghosts on the property and it's not haunted, according to WCCO.