Boy charged with arson in Viola church fire

Jane Carlson
Galesburg Register-Mail
VIOLA — As parishioners deal with the loss of St. John's Church in Viola to fire, a 12-year-old boy has been arrested for arson.

VIOLA — As parishioners deal with the loss of St. John's Church in Viola to fire, a 12-year-old boy has been arrested for arson.

The child will be charged with one count of arson, according to a release from Mercer County sheriff Dusty Terrill.

Longtime parishioner Dana Brooks said she grew up 300 feet from the church on 1101 21st. Ave. in Viola and served as director of religious education there for 17 years.

The brick church has been the site of funerals, first communions, baptisms and weddings for Brooks’ family.

“So many people are profoundly affected by this sad event,” Brooks said.

Brooks said though the building is lost, the people and the relationships that resided inside are not.

The fire was reported around 5 a.m. Thursday.

Assisting at the scene were fire departments from Viola, Aledo and Matherville and the Geneseo Ambulance Service.

The fire is being investigated by the sheriff’s office, Viola police, the Illinois State Police and the sate fire marshal.

Due to the child’s age, no further information is being released about the arrest.

The church was empty at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.