TACONY - A group of teens is being held responsible for starting a fire that torched a historic Tacony-area church last May, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.
Prosecutors say two youths were charged with arson, burglary and conspiracy following a monthslong investigation into the two-alarm fire that consumed the former St. Leo the Great Parish. Two other teens were charged with burglary and conspiracy.
Investigators acted on an anonymous tip that lead police to the teens who are accused of unlawfully entering the building and setting the century-old church ablaze.
St. Leo's was decommissioned by the Archdiocese in 2013 and was slated for redevelopment by a private owner, according to District Attorney Larry Krasner. The church was known as a staple among Tacony residents and held a spot on the Historic Register.
"The crimes alleged here harmed the Tacony community. Philadelphia’s historic structures are beloved for so much more than their beauty," Krasner said.
The inferno gutted the 137-year-old church on May 9 and left only the front-facing stone wall standing after firefighters extinguished the flames. The charred remnants of the church were later demolished with a wrecking ball.
"We hope the ultimate resolution of this case is some small comfort to the St. Leo's family and the Tacony neighborhood," Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said.