Two teenagers who escaped a Cleveland-area drug facility over the weekend wound up inside a Milan church Monday evening and were apprehended after a brief foot chase near the town’s square, police said.
A 17-year-old Fremont boy and 14-year-old Lyndhurst boy were both charged with felony breaking and entering and misdemeanor criminal damaging and obstruction. The older boy was also found with marijuana and charged accordingly.
A custodian caught the boys inside the Edison Memorial United Methodist Church on East Church Street Monday, shortly before 7 p.m., Milan interim police Chief Bob Meister said.
When the custodian stopped by to lock the building’s doors for the night, he heard a banging noise and set out to investigate, Meister said.
He allegedly found the pastor’s office door kicked in, and discovered the boys hiding behind the pulpit. After an unsuccessful attempt to catch the pair, he contacted police.
At the time, Milan Township firefighters were gathered just a few blocks away for a monthly meeting, so Milan police recruited them to come to bring in search lights to help look for the teens. Erie County deputies also assisted.
“They were within two blocks of the church,” Meister said. “They didn’t get very far because they probably didn’t know where to run.”
Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth caught one boy, and the other was found lying in nearby brush, Meister said.
Meister soon learned they were runaways from a Pepper Pike juvenile treatment facility.
“They were more or less on the run for the last 36 hours or so, and they were trying to get out of the elements,” Meister said.
The boys had sought shelter inside the church and napped on lounge chairs for a few hours. The boys said when they awoke, they were hungry and wanted to search the pastor’s office for food.
Meister suspected they may have been trying to return to the 17-year-old’s hometown of Fremont and stopped in Milan on the way.
The teens were taken to the Erie County Juvenile Justice Center. If they’re found delinquent, they’ll be turned over to their home counties to serve their sentences.