Suspects ID'd in Philadelphia funeral robbery

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - February 29, 2012

"This is outrageous, very disturbing," said Philadelphia Police Captain Laurence Nodiff.

"This doesn't happen here. It's the first time since I've been here that anything happened at a funeral mass," said Father Joseph Genito.

Father Joseph Genito was performing the funeral mass for a man from the neighborhood in his 70s who had died of cancer. Saint Rita's was filled with his friends and family in mourning.

At the end of mass, Father Genito was offering communion. That's when Cirino and Jones approached the altar. But the pair didn't take communion.

"They walked past me," said Father Genito. "I thought it was odd that they didn't seem to know anything at all about what was going on."

Police say on their way back to the pews, the couple reached into a purse and took a cell phone and some cash. As they tried to leave the church, they were confronted by the funeral director. The pair denied taking anything.

"But one of the family members dialed the victim's cell phone and it rang in the female's possession," said Nodiff, the Philadelphia Police captain.

Police say the Cirino then reached in his pocket, pretending he had a gun.

"The male and female then ran out," said Nodiff. "They were pursued by the funeral director outside on Broad Street. There was a uniformed police officer who joined the chase."

Cirino and Jones were arrested a few blocks away.

"First, I think it's very sad," said Father Genito. "Second, I think they must be pretty desperate. Third, they are despicable people for doing things like that."

The suspects are charged with robbery, theft, and related offenses. The investigation was taking awhile Tuesday afternoon because all the witnesses were still at the cemetery.

Police say they hope this sad tale is a reminder that even in church, people need to keep an eye on their possessions.

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