On Sunday morning, members of a Johnston County church were not surprised when Elton Eugene Bryant showed up at their house of worship.
Since April 2012, it has been a regular pattern for the 52 year-old Angier man to trespass at Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church on Piney Grove Road off Highway 210. Bryant spends weeks or months in jail awaiting trial for trespassing, is eventually convicted, then returns immediately after he is released from jail.
Bryant has even been told by court judges not to return to Piney Grove Church but he refuses to listen.
Around 9:50am Sunday, an off-duty deputy hired by the church for security was in the parking lot when Bryant walked up to the church. The deputy said Bryant was carrying a Bible in one hand and in the other hand a bag. The bag contained his probation-issued ankle monitor charging cord which Bryant asked the deputy to be returned to his probation officer.
Bryant was arrested Sunday for his 14th trespassing offense and transported to the Johnston County Jail to once again await trial.
In April 2018, Bryant was convicted by a Superior Court Jury of stalking church pastor Timmy Blair. Bryant was ordered not to return to the church or make contact with Pastor Blair. He was also ordered to undergo psychological counseling. He was sentenced to a minimum of 10 months but after being given credit for time served awaiting trial he was released from jail last week.
Since 2012, Bryant has spent nearly 2,000 days in the Johnston County Jail. The cost to incarcerate him is almost $110,000.
Church officials have not commented on Bryant’s 14th arrest. No one knows why Bryant continues to return to Piney Grove Church immediately after every release. Bryant has reportedly threatened the pastor and church members. He has also allegedly threatened to cause damage to the church.
When Bryant stands trial for his 14th offense – no matter the sentence a judge may hand down – church members will be waiting and watching for him to return the next Sunday he is free from the county jail.