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Jiamei Tian, National Cathedral green paint suspect, may be linked to Lincoln Memorial vandalism but not talking to authorities

9:13 PM, Jul 31, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- It's a case of connect the paint spots for federal investigators looking into a rash of vandalism at some of the area's most treasured landmarks.

Authorities have one woman in custody in connection to a vandalism at the National Cathedral. They're now trying to see if she could be responsible for the vandalism spree at three other landmarks. There are a lot of similarities in the cases but the suspect arrested at the National Cathedral on Monday is refusing to talk. Police say Jiamei Tian was hiding in a bathroom stall splattered with green paint holding a soda bottle containing more paint.

Jiamei Tian appeared in D.C. Superior Court with a Mandarin translator. Charging documents say the Chinese national's business visa expired four days ago. Prosecutors and court documents say she is linked to at least four other incidents of vandalism, including at the Lincoln Memorial. Similar green paint stained a statue outside the Smithsonian castle and Lutheran Place Memorial Church in Thomas Circle. The pastor there says she saw Tian sitting in the pew holding three bags in her hand during Sunday's worship service. The pastor believes the paint mixed with human waste was splattered when everyone cleared the sanctuary.

The job of cleaning the Lincoln Memorial is still underway. Crews expected to finish power washing later Wednesday. Visitors are being kept at bay as scaffolding surrounds the stained statue. A delicate, all natural cleaning solution has been soaking the green paint for the last 24 hours. The liquid lifts the paint off the marble layer by layer and crews will then wash it away. It's a painstakingly slow and deliberate process.

Conservationists are also taking similar steps at the statue outside the Smithsonian Castle, but the green paint at the cathedral and Luther Place Memorial Church at Thomas Square will be harder to remove because of the various materials vandalized.

Carol Johnson with the National Park Service said they are evaluating security at the Lincoln Memorial, but unfortunately, there are times it is going to be unattended, and if someone is really determined to do something, sometimes it's hard to stop.

The National Park Foundation and WUSA9 have teamed up to raise money to fight vandalism against national memorials and parks. We asked you to text the word PARKS to 90999 to donate $10 (two "Lincolns") or log on to the National Park Foundation website to donate $5 or as much as you want to #RespectLincoln. On Wednesday morning, Majorie Hall of National Park Foundation said the #respectlincoln campaign raised nearly $2,000.

The National Cathedral has the following update on the restoration process:

"Conservators have removed most of the green paint from the gilt wooden reredos in Children's Chapel. While a small amount of final detail work remains-and some long overdue cleaning of accumulated dust-the figures and lettering on the altarpiece are now largely paint free. The chapel should reopen late this week. The cleaning has revealed additional restoration work to be considered.

In Bethlehem Chapel, a team of conservators is busy carefully removing the paint while avoiding damage to the delicate wooden surfaces. Although the pipes themselves cleaned easily and the slate floor is finished, the grain of the wood has soaked up the paint. Full removal will be slower and more painstaking than expected, and restoration will continue well into next week. Here also, the work has highlighted addition restoration work for future consideration."

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