Three St. Johns County teenagers are facing felony charges in connection with the vandalism at two northwest churches earlier this week according to a media release provided to Historic City News by St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Media Relations Officer Kevin Kelshaw.
The three juveniles, each only 16-years old, face three counts of criminal mischief to a church and one count each of disturbing a grave or burial site. Both of those charges are third degree felonies. Two of the suspects also face a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief to a vehicle.
The investigation began early this past Sunday morning when deputies responded to a report of vandalism to the Mary Wood Retreat Center in the 1700 block of S.R. 13.
The suspects forced open a door to a storage shed and removed assorted cans of spray paint. The suspects then sprayed graffiti on several vehicles, several buildings and on the roadway through the retreat center.
The suspects also defaced the Columbarium and Memorial Wall where cremated human remains are placed into small vaults.
The suspects continued to spray graffiti on the walls of the San Juan Del Rio Catholic Church on the same property. They also sprayed graffiti on the columns and walls of a nearby church, the Geneva Presbyterian Church.
The mother of one of the suspects observed a surveillance video that was released from the church to the media and recognized who she believed to be her son and confronted him. He admitted to the vandalism and she contacted the Sheriffâ€™s Office. The other two suspects were identified and all three were questioned and cooperated in the investigation.
A complaint affidavit for the above listed charges will be signed by Property Crimes Unit Detectives. Additional charges are pending further investigation.