SMYRNA, Tenn. (AP) — A Smyrna woman said she left the church she belonged to for 55 years after her pastor was charged with stealing her pain medicine.
Rickey Alan Reed, pastor of First Free Methodist Church in Smyrna, was charged with aggravated burglary after church member Jean Harris set up video surveillance on a side door to her home to find out why her Lortab pain medication kept disappearing. An entire bottle went missing in May.
Harris said she was prescribed the powerful medication after a 2006 shoulder injury to help her manage pain.
A video recording showed Reed coming to the locked door and trying to get into the house. Harris told The Tennessean on Monday that she called police after realizing that Reed was going to keep stealing painkillers (http://bit.ly/niKzKI ).
"It took me a week and a half of prayer," Harris said Monday. "But if I didn't, he was going to keep doing this."
Smyrna Police confirmed on Monday that Reed, 55, turned himself in last month and was arrested. A call left on an answering machine Tuesday at a telephone listed in Reed's name wasn't returned.
Ronald Balzer, superintendent for the New South Conference of the Free Methodist Church, said Reed is on voluntary leave of absence and told the newspaper details of the case have been overstated.
"There has been a problem with some pain, and that took him places he didn't want to go," Balzer said.
Police said there might be other members of the congregation who Reed stole medicine from and they asked that anyone with information call them.
Harris said the church leadership had been trying to keep the incident quiet.
"We're sweeping this stuff under the rug," she said. "That's exactly what that was."
Harris said after she confronted Reed, other church members pressured her to not go to police.
She said after she did, some members ostracized her and she felt uncomfortable attending there and left the church.