Barbara Whitt (Photo: Hamblen Co. Sheriff's Office/ Morristown Police)
MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Authorities say crime is a family affair for a Morristown mother and son.
Morristown Police say Michael Whitt, 42, laundered money that his mother Barbara Whitt embezzled from the First Baptist Church of Morristown.
Although the sanctuary is quiet now, the Rev. Dean Haun says First Baptist Church of Morristown continues to be a busy place. Even as prosecutors file more charges, he says the church is forgiving and moving forward.
"There's been a real galvanizing of our fellowship in the midst of all of this storm that we've walked through," said Haun.
MPD began investigating money missing from the church in May. They arrested Barbara Whitt, a 47-year employee of the church, for making off with more than $1.5 million.
"The greatest thing that we lost was trust," said Haun, "That's the greatest disappointment in our process."
Tuesday, detectives uncovered her son, Michael Whitt's involvement. Records show he laundered some $450,000.
While the investigation into legal justice continues, folks here at Grace Baptist Church of Morristown say Barbara Whitt has already begun to come to terms with her faith.
"Just because she's sinned, doesn't mean that she's not a part of us any more," said the Rev. Todd Stinnett of Grace Baptist Church. Stinnett says Barbara Whitt, a 55-year member, returned to worship July 4.
Michael is also part of the church family. "Yes, he is a member of our church. We still continue to pray for Michael, and everything that is going on in his life," said Stinnett. "We know that justice needs to be served in this circumstance, but we're just praying for the mercy of God, and the mercy of the courts, and the community."
Haun says Michael was not employed, and to their knowledge, never came to First Baptist. As the church deals with insurance claims for theft, Haun says his congregation, of nearly 2500 members, remains focused on the future.
"If there is the possibility of restitution, we would certainly be open to the possibility of that, but I think our church is marching forward, marching on," he said.