Chris Colvill,41, a registered sex offender
MONTICELLO – The Woodridge man charged with the theft of a $35,000 Torah from Landfield Avenue Synagogue had worked on several repair projects at the synagogue and had been sought for weeks for questioning, the congregation's rabbi said.
Chris Colvill, a registered sex offender who has served prison time for attempted sodomy and attempted assault, had called days before the theft looking for work at the synagogue, said Rabbi Ben-Zion Chanowitz. Colvill, 41, also contacted him with an updated phone number on Jan. 1, the day after the Torah was found missing, Chanowitz said.
“I didn't think anything bad of him,” Chanowitz said. “I thought he was a nice person.”
The Torah was stolen sometime between the night of Dec. 30 and the morning of Dec. 31. Chanowitz arrived in the morning to find his office and the synagogue secretary's office tossed, with $200 in charity funds missing.
The rabbi also found empty one of three Holy Arks used to store the Torah, which was purchased a decade ago following a year-long fund-raising campaign.
Colvill was arrested at a house in Woodridge around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday. He was charged with third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a felony, and sent to Sullivan County Jail without bail after his arraignment in Fallsburg Town Court.
State records say Colvill spent over five years in prison after being convicted of first-degree attempted sodomy. The victim was a 4-year-old girl, according to the state's sex-offender registry.
He was also imprisoned in April 2006 following a conviction for attempted second-degree assault. His release on that conviction came in October 2009.
It was about a year ago that Colvill accompanied a contractor hired to do some work at the synagogue, Chanowitz said.
Colvill, listed at 6 feet, 240 pounds on the state's sex-offender registry, was a suspect from the beginning because of the way a door was broken into, Chanowitz said.
“They called him ‘The Bull,'” he said. “Whenever they (contractors) had something big and heavy to be moved, they called him.”