- - Monday, July 29, 2013

D.C. police on Monday arrested a woman in a string of green-paint vandalism in the District, but officials said they did not know whether she was responsible for all or just some of the incidents that include Friday’s attack on the Lincoln Memorial.

Police identified the woman Monday evening as Jiamei Tian, 58, in a statement that said she had no fixed address and had been charged with defacing property. She was found in the Washington National Cathedral, one of three sites where green paint has been found in the past four days, sources familiar with the arrest said.

“Detectives are investigating whether the suspect may have been involved in similar offenses,” the Metropolitan Police Department statement said.

Green paint was discovered in the Bethlehem and Children’s chapels of the National Cathedral, on a statue of American science pioneer Joseph Henry across from the Smithsonian Castle, and on the iconic seated statue of Abraham Lincoln.

In the cathedral, the paint was splashed on the Bethlehem Chapel’s organ console and casework and was discovered still wet, suggesting the vandalism was recent. Bethlehem Chapel is the oldest portion of the Cathedral and was the original burial site of former President Woodrow Wilson, who died in 1924.

Cathedral officials contacted D.C. police immediately and shut down the chapel while officials searched the building.

Though there was no official confirmation of a link to the Lincoln Memorial vandalism, cathedral spokesman Richard Weinberg said, “I think that assumption can be made, but the investigation is ongoing.”

Smithsonian spokeswoman Becky Haberacker said Sunday afternoon that security officers noticed green paint on the base of the statue of Henry, the institution’s first secretary.

The statue depicts Henry standing with his right hand clutching a cloak about him, while his left hand rests on a square column. Paint spotted the base of the statue and a little on the statue itself. Park Police took samples of the paint to see whether it matched the paint on the Lincoln Memorial.

“What we’re doing is having some of our conservation staff look at what solvent is best to remove the paint,” Ms. Haberacker said. “We want to make sure whatever we use to clean it up will not damage either the base or the statue.”

Ms. Haberacker said instances of similar vandalism are few and far between for any of the Smithsonian locations.

“We are in a very public, very highly trafficked place, directly off the Mall,” she said.

Twitter speculation on Monday generated a #greenpaintbandit hashtag, while National Park Service maintenance crews continued cleaning the splatters from the Lincoln Memorial that appeared on the 120-ton marble statue’s left pant leg, coat hem and lap Friday.

While the U.S. Park Police investigated the Lincoln Memorial vandalism all day Friday, the memorial was closed until 6:30 p.m. during the heart of a heavy tourist season for the capital. The paint splatter revealed no pattern resembling letters or markings. Security cameras may provide evidence of the crime.

The maintenance crew erected scaffolding around the Lincoln Memorial in an ongoing effort to remove the stubborn paint. The cleanup process “is going to take several days,” Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said. Workers are using multiple applications of a water-based conservator-approved cleaning product.

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