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Teen charged with 2016 central Minn. church arson

MELROSE, Minn. -- A teenager suspected of setting fire to a historic church in Melrose confessed to the crime in early June, ending more than two years of investigations into the 2016 fire that destroyed the church as well as a German-made wood altar that was installed there in 1899.

The investigation into the fire at St. Mary’s Catholic Church was determined to be arson shortly after the March 11, 2016, blaze, the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office said. Authorities said numerous people were re-interviewed and potential evidence re-examined before narrowing in on a suspect who was 13 years old at the time of the fire.

The teen was charged with first-degree arson. Juvenile court proceedings are, by law, confidential, the sheriff’s office said. No further information concerning those proceedings can or will be released.

Damage to the 118-year-old Romanesque Revival-style church, about 35 miles northwest of St. Cloud, caused several million dollars in damage.

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