Mandan police took a man to the hospital after wrestling him away from the crypt in the basement of the Church of St. Joseph.
Lt. Richard Schaaf said officers were called to the church, 108 Third St. N.E., at around 5:30 p.m. Friday for a report of a despondent and agitated man walking through the church. By the time officers arrived, the man was in the basement with a church staff member.
The church has an unusual feature in that its founder, Rev. Daniel Collins, is buried in a crypt in the basement. Collins, an Irish-born priest, donated $13,500 of his own money toward the $40,000 it took to build the original church at Collins Avenue and Third Street Northeast.
He died in 1909, and his remains were disinterred from his original cemetery spot and buried in a vault beneath the church in 1911. A church renovation was completed in 2010, and part of the project included marking Collins’ burial spot with a slab of black granite marked with a green-and-gold Celtic cross.
Schaaf said when officers arrived, the man had moved the slab and was laying on top of the sealed crypt. He said the slab is “unbelievably heavy.”
“We believe he was under the influence of some sort of narcotics or drugs,” Schaaf said.
He said officers struggled with the man and took him into custody. They had him transported by ambulance to Sanford Health, where he was admitted for treatment.
The case remains under investigation, and police will work with church officials to decide whether to seek charges in the case, Schaaf said.
He called the case “eerie.”
“It’s a first for me in 34 years,” he said.