MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 27-year-old man has been sentenced for setting fire to a St. Paul church last December.
On Thursday, Gregory Louis Knox, of St. Paul, learned he will spend 5 years in the St. Cloud Prison. Knox previous pleaded guilty to starting a fire at the Saint Mark Lutheran Church at 550 West 7th Street on the morning of Dec. 12, 2014.
According to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, investigators say two fires were set in the church: one in a break room garbage can, and another in the file cabinet in the pastor’s office.
The pastor told investigators that he suspected Knox as the culprit. Knox started coming to the church, from which he lived a block away from, in July. He sought help with finding a job, and befriended the church’s cook.
But Knox was no longer welcomed in the church by October after a string of thefts, including items taken from two separate purses and the cook’s cell phone – which was later recovered and contained selfies taken by Knox.
The cook told police that Knox had come back to the church the day before the fire, but was not allowed inside.
Several witnesses then saw Knox near the church the next morning, including a neighbor who saw Knox walking away from — but looking back at — the smoking building.