published Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Bessie Smith Strut burglary case goes to Hamilton County grand jury

Bessie Smith Cultural Center
Bessie Smith Cultural Center
Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The charges against a man accused of burglarizing the Bessie Smith Cultural Center after this year's Bessie Smith Strut were sent to a Hamilton County grand jury Tuesday.

Torrey Hines, 35, appeared in Judge Christine Sell's General Sessions courtroom and waived his right to a preliminary hearing.

Hines, who worked at the center, is charged with burglary, theft of property and vandalism after admitting to breaking in early on the morning of June 10 and taking cash from a desk drawer.

Two weeks after the incident, he brought a box containing $39,921 to police headquarters and confessed to the theft. He told officers that he had already spent $2,500 on bills and gas but took nothing more.

Meanwhile, officials at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center have told authorities that $88,932 is missing.

Hines also admitted to vandalizing the center by spray-painting white supremacist markings during the theft to give it the appearance of a hate crime.

Bessie Smith Cultural Center director Rose Martin said Tuesday that the center is continuing to fulfill its mission within the community and declined to comment on the theft.

The judge ordered Hines to avoid contact with the center and any potential witnesses in the case.

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