RAYNE, La. (KLFY) – Rayne Police arrested a man who stole the human remains and placed them at St. Joseph’s Church in Rayne. Investigators said his motive in leaving the bones at the church was to have the bones blessed and properly reburied.

Russel “Rusty” Richard, 44, was arrested by Rayne Police after being connected to placing human bones at St. Joseph’s Church.

Rayne police first began investigating on May 18, when staff members at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church discovered skeletal remains, a note with symbols, and other items possibly taken from a grave arranged in a peculiar manner outside an entrance.

Ellaine Turner, who owns a snowball stand less than a block from the church and also attends mass there, said the discovery was somewhat alarming.

“My first reaction was kind of scary because you’re like, who would leave bones on the steps of the church,’ Turner said. “You know there may have been a 5 second fearfulness, but when you have trust, you just go on with your life.”

Turner explained that the church’s priest, who cooperated with police in the investigation, let the congregation know what was happening.

“Well there were so many rumors going around. Father Brent helped us out after church on Sunday,” Turner said. “He wanted to explain it all to us. So he explained it all to us, and it wasn’t that bad. First reaction is gosh, who would do that? Second reaction, when we’re told the truth and when he’s out in the open with everything and it’s truthful, then you believe it and you just go on. So I guess it didn’t interrupt my life at all, but it was kind of like gosh, who would do that?”

After another human bone was left on the church steps Tuesday and Turner said the community understood there was no threat to their safety.

Wednesday, police identified Russell “Rusty” Richard as the alleged suspect in both incidents.

After being questioned by detectives, Richard told police he stole the bones from this cemetery, off of Roberts Cove Highway.

He claims he just wanted the bones blessed and properly reburied.

“Somebody wanted bones and now that you know they just wanted them blessed by the priest, it kind of gives you the thought that how could you make that person more comfortable talking to the pastor or the priest, whoever it may be, about why you need these bones blessed,” Turner said.

Investigators are now in the process of trying to identify family members of the stolen human remains.