Couple describes church wedding ring theft

Willie Locke
Willie Locke

(WMC-TV) - A Cordova man is behind bars after investigators say he stole a woman's wedding ring inside a church.

Gabby and Thomas Barber say the suspect bit the hand that fed him. The church offered the suspect outreach for years. Now, he's banned from the property.

Gabby and Thomas Barber were high school sweethearts. They got married inside Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church last year.

And after a brazen encounter, Gabby Barber is lucky to still have that beautiful wedding ring on her finger.

"It's just crazy to me that it happened at church," she said.

It all began when Willie Locke asked to use the church restroom as Gabby exercised and her husband was outside with other parishioners doing maintenance on the church.

"When I saw him jump on the stage, I knew all our belongings were there," Gabby explained.

She later noticed her ring was gone from her purse and she asked Locke about it.

"All of a sudden, he just struck out and left," she said.

When her husband, a deacon and grandson of the church pastor, caught wind of what happened, a group of parishioners followed Locke to this store across the street.

"I said 'Just tell me if you did it.' He said 'I haven't got it. I haven't got it.' I said 'I'm going to ask you one more time,' and I walked towards him. That's when he took off running," Thomas explained.

He said Locke was running holding one of his pockets when he caught up with him and found the ring in Locke's pocket.

"It's hurtful to know someone will just come and take things you work hard for," he said. "I don't care if you're 57, 27 or 23 like me. You have to be accountable for what you do."

The Barbers say this is not the first time Locke has done something like this. Locke is charged with felony theft because the rings cost nearly $10,000.

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