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Woman Accused of Stabbing Deacon Makes First Court Appearance

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The woman accused of stabbing a deacon at a Des Moines church on Thursday made her initial court appearance Friday morning.

Ashley Eckhardt, 31, was arrested and charged with willful injury after witnesses say she stabbed Reverend Joseph Coan at St. Augustin Catholic Church before running off. Echkardt was arrested a couple blocks away in the 4300 block of Ingersoll Avenue.

Eckhardt was formally charged on Friday, and during the brief hearing she told the judge she had no idea who Coan was. She is now being held on a $100,000 bond and will return to court on February 13th.

Coan suffered several lacerations to his face and hands, but has now been released from the hospital and is recovering at home.

On Friday evening, the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines issued a statement in which Deacon Coan thanks the community for all the prayers and support he is receiving.

"Tell everybody I'm doing fine and I appreciate all their support and prayers and concern," he says through the statement. Coan says he is grateful not to have experienced more serious injuries, and continues to pray for Eckhardt.

Coan has been ordained for nearly 31 years and plans to return to the church after he has recovered.

"That's the secret of life," he said. "You've got to keep busy. I'll never retire. I've got to keep going."

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