Centerville police arrest teen accused of attacking a 71-year-old woman in a locked chapel

Last November, a 71-year-old woman who was practicing the organ alone in a locked chapel in Centerville was suddenly attacked and choked to the point of unconsciousness several times.

Now, police say they’ve arrested a suspect in the case — a 17-year-old from Centerville — thanks to DNA evidence at the scene.

"Detectives were able to collect DNA evidence left behind on discarded objects by the person of interest which were sent to the state lab for processing,” Chief Paul Child of Centerville Police said in a news release. “This investigation took several months, but it remained a priority for us.”

The teen got into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building at 270 N. 300 East on Nov. 18 by throwing a rock through a window.

The teen, whose name has not been released because he is underage, was arrested in Kaysville on Wednesday and booked into the Farmington Bay Juvenile Detention Center on one count of first-degree aggravated burglary and one count of second- degree aggravated assault.

Police say the victim, whose name has also not been released, “expressed relief” upon learning of the arrest. She had some bruising and soft tissue damage to her face and neck after the incident, Child told The Salt Lake Tribune, but faced no long term health effects.

“I talked to her a day or two later and she had been shaken up, obviously, but she’s kind of an emotionally strong person so she was handling it, actually, pretty remarkably well,” he said.

Child said police do not know the motive for the incident and that the teen, who has never before been arrested or charged by Centerville police, “is not telling us” why he did it.

There is currently no known relationship between the victim and the teen, Child said.

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