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Confession Reported in Athens Catholic Church Fire

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Investigators looking into the weekend vandalism and arson at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Athens reportedly received a confession on Monday morning.

According to Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office spokeswoman Lindsay Burnworth, an investigator from the office was on the scene late Monday morning when an individual confessed to the investigator about starting the fire.

That person has been taken to a mental health facility for evaluation, according to Burnworth. She did not release the identity of the person.

A report from the Athens Police Department states that there was vandalism to the back of the church and there was fire damage to the inside of the church around the altar.

The vandalism and arson reportedly took place between 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, with officers responding to the call just before 8 a.m., Sunday.

Father Mark Moore said that the altar cloths had been lit on fire, which then burned the carpet, wood and baseboards of the church.

While the wooden altars did receive some fire damage they are still standing, Moore said.

He stated that mass was held as usual at the church on Sunday.

According to the police report, several of the church altars and the alter cloths were burned, causing minor damage. The report lists a damage estimate of $900.

Moore said there have been other incidents of vandalism and damage in the past, but there were no threats leading up to the weekend incident.

A disposable lighter was also found at the scene and taken as evidence.

An investigation into the matter is pending, according to the Athens Police Department report.