BELLWOOD - Three teenagers face felony charges after Bellwood police said they broke into a former nursing home, stole copper and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
Shawn David Himes II, 18, of 2579 Old Sixth Avenue Road, Altoona; Daniel Carl Morse, 19, of 221 Forshey Lane, Altoona; and Tyler Lee Kensinger, 19, of 246 Grazierville Road, Tyrone, turned themselves in to Bellwood police Friday morning to face burglary, conspiracy and related charges stemming from the trashing of the former Moran's Home, 402 Maple Ave., Bellwood.
Police said the insurer of the building, owned by John Panick Jr. of Portage Land Holdings estimated the loss and damage at $330,000.
Panick said Friday his company was in the process of seeking financing to open a personal care home in the building and had just completed drafting changes with an architect when the damage was discovered.
"It looked like a tornado went through there," Panick said.
According to court records, the vandalism, which included emptied fire extinguishers, profane spray-painted graffiti, torn down ceiling tiles and damage to walls, wiring and pipes, began when Kensinger and Morse crawled through an unlocked basement window in August.
Police said the pair pulled registers from the rooms to get copper.
Between August and Oct. 4, when the damage was discovered, the three, along with several juveniles and an adult who has yet to be arrested, sneaked into the vacant building to hang out, smoke cigarettes, drink beer and steal copper, police allege.
On one of the scavenger hunts at the building, Morse allegedly told police that he and Kensinger got locked in a basement storage room and almost called police for help before one of them was able to break the door knob and escape.
Police said the copper was collected in the middle of the night and put into garbage cans and laundry baskets to be hauled away with Himes' pickup truck. Police noted Himes, who attends Bellwood-Antis High School, would wait in his truck down the street until he received a text message from one of the others. At that point he would pull the truck to the front of the building, the copper was loaded and he would take the others home. Police said Himes told investigators he would the sell the copper the next day.
In October, police learned the state police crime lab was able to pull a fingerprint from a syringe found in the building, but it wasn't until early December that police got a break in the case.
Kensinger, Himes and Morse allegedly admitted to their roles in the vandalism and theft when police tracked them down in December, records show. The state police tipped off Bellwood police to Kensinger after he was questioned about another matter and mentioned breaking into the former nursing home, arrest papers indicate.
Panick said the vandalism set back the opening of the personal care home by about nine months but said plans were still going forward. He said until the vandalism, the building was in good condition and said it was disappointing to discover it had been ransacked and vandalized.
"We really tip our hats to the Bellwood police," Panick said, adding he believed no one would ever be arrested. "I can't say enough about them. They were very helpful."
Magisterial District Judge Fred Miller set unsecured bail for each at $100,000 but attached stiff conditions to their release. All three will have nightly curfews from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., as well as random drug and alcohol testing at least once every two weeks, at their own expense. The three will also be supervised by the Blair County Adult Probation Office, according to court documents.
Preliminary hearings for the three are slated for Tuesday in Tyrone District Court.