Two teenage boys who left a Cuyahoga County residential treatment center were caught Monday in Erie County after being in a Milan church.
The two boys, 14 and 17, were charged with a felony count of breaking and entering plus criminal damaging and obstructing official business. The 17-year-old Fremont boy also was charged with possession of marijuana.
"I found marijuana stuffed in a cigarette pack," interim Milan Police Chief Bob Meister said.
After being arrested, the two boys were transported to the Erie County Juvenile Justice Center.
About 1:30 p.m., a secretary with the Edison United Methodist Church called police about hearing someone knocking on her office door.
"(She) was startled to say the least," said Meister, who checked the church building with a janitor, but didn't find anybody.
Officer Jerry Emery received a call about 6:30 p.m. from another janitor who heard a banging noise and found the boys later hiding behind the altar in the sanctuary. Meister said the janitor determined the suspects "tried to break down the pastor's office door" by kicking in the top of the door. He also said the suspects had lit some candles while they were in the sanctuary, but didn't do any damage there.
"The janitor tried to detain them, but they ended up taking off. ... The janitor tried to give chase, but they were able to get away," Meister said.
Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth caught the 14-year-old Lyndhurst boy with the assistance of a Good Samaritan.
"We appreciate his assistance," Meister said, referring to the sheriff.
Sigsworth was on the way from his home back to his office for a meeting when he heard the call to Emery. Sigsworth met the officer at the church and started looking for the boys on foot. When Emery went back to the church to get more information from the janitor, the sheriff said he heard a Good Samaritan yelling at the boys.
"One (boy) ran east. The other surrendered right away," Sigsworth said.
Police called the Milan Township Fire Department to the scene to help search for the older boy. Meister said firefighters used a flood light to light the area south of the church and Emery found the 17-year-old boy hiding in some brush on Center Street.
Meister said police couldn't have found the boy without the assistance of the fire department.
"They lit up a two-block area like it was daylight. They turned night into day," the interim police chief said.
The boys had been in a residential treatment center in Pepper Pike, which is on the far eastern side of Cuyahoga County. It's unclear why they were in Milan, but Meister said it's possible the boys were on the way to Fremont.
"They walked away from the facility Saturday. It's unknown how they left," Meister said.