05/22/05 — Statue parts are found

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Statue parts are found

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on May 22, 2005 2:09 AM

The base and pedestal of the 89-year-old Lady in the Park statue that were stolen Thursday from behind the Wayne County Museum were found Friday in a salvage yard, where they had been sold for $168, a historical society official said.

Louis Marriner, president of the Wayne County Historical Society, said Saturday that the theives had told a salvage yard employee that "the Courthouse had given it to them."

When the parts were recovered, Marriner said most of it was there. But several big chunks were missing, including an arm from a cherub and a part of the bowl.

"Now that part of it is destroyed, it made me sick," he said. "We thought someone had taken it out of town and sold it for scrap."

But Laura Alley, a temporary employee at the museum, called the salvage yard and found out that the pieces were there.

Goldsboro Police Chief Tim Bell said Saturday night that no one had been arrested in the case. He added that Investigator Mike Moore was following up leads and hoped to make an arrest soon.

The base and pedestal weighed several hundred pounds. Police had speculated that more than one person was involved in the theft.

Marriner said the original statue that sat in Herman Park until about a year ago was worth about $75,000. It was donated in 1916 by the Weil family. Marriner estimated that the stolen pieces were worth about $30,000. He said he will take the pieces to an antique appraiser in Wilson.

The old statue was to serve as a centerpiece in a memory garden at the museum. Marriner, just beginning a two-year term as historical society president, said the garden would be surrounded with a wrought-iron fence. Families could buy bricks in memory of loved ones.

Marriner, who worked in the family metal shop until retiring, said he reattached the head on the old statue after it had been knocked off by children playing basketball about 10 years ago. An arm also was broken off, and it was patched back.

Marriner said he drove by the museum a few nights ago and found out that the two pieces were missing.

He said the District Attorney's Office had requested the value of the stolen base and pedestal so that prosecutors could prepare a court case.

Then he added, "How do you put a price on it? It's priceless."