DES PLAINES, Ill. (WLS) -- A 41-year-old Arlington Heights woman has been charged with arson after a fire at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines Tuesday.
Des Plaines police said officers arrived at the shrine and saw Virginia Roque-Fermin with soot on her clothes and walking away from the fire. They then took her into custody.
Police said surveillance video shows Roque-Fermin carrying objects such as statues, buckets, chairs and planter pots toward the grotto area before starting a fire. Police said she continued carrying objects toward the fire in an attempt to stoke the flames.
Rev. Esequiel Sanchez said the suspected arsonist set fire to the outdoor Chapel of the Resurrected Christ, which was badly damaged. Statues, sacred art and the plaza area near the chapel were also damaged by the fire.
"It's a desecration of a very holy place," pilgrim Ethel Gina Bailon said. "And there's no regard anymore for a holy place."
"The Chapel of the Resurrected Christ is one of the most venerated areas where pilgrims come to visit. They leave mementos, they leave their prayers, it's a great place to sit and pray for a while," Rev. Sanchez said. "My task is now to open up the hearts and say we can build again."
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The total damage to the shrine is estimated at $78,000, police said. Shrine leaders said support to rebuild has already started pouring in.
Roque-Fermin is being held on $200,000 bond.
She is next due in court June 8 in Skokie.