Statue Head Found Buried in Backyard: 15-year-old Arrested for Vandalism in Cemetery

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    By Richard Dye

    Detectives arrested a minor last Friday, March 10, 2006, who allegedly broke off the head of a 6-foot statue of Christ in Orem.

    Detectives Steve Swenson and John McCombs acted on information given to them by confidential sources Friday evening and arrested the 15-year-old suspect at his home.

    After the vandalism occurred March 5, Berg Mortuary, who owns and operates the cemetery, offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the damage, police said.

    The reward was announced at local schools since police believed juvenile offenders were responsible, Lt. Doug Edwards said in a news release.

    Apparently the reward worked.

    David Condon, sexton of the Timpanogos Memorial Gardens Cemetery, said students at the school where the boy attended apparently tipped off police.

    The statue”s head was recovered from the home where the alleged vandal buried it in his backyard.

    The boy, a 9th-grade student at Canyon View Junior High School, admitted to detectives that he had purposely taken a hammer to the cemetery to damage the statue because “he wanted to” and “thought that it would be fun,” police said.

    The boy was booked into the Slate Canyon Juvenile holding facility and may have been released Monday morning, Swenson said.

    Swenson said the boy could be facing a felony charge of criminal mischief, as the damage estimate is near $5,000.

    “I”m sad for the kid that he would do something like that,” Condon said.

    He said he hopes the boy has learned his lesson.

    “I hope he suffers some kind of consequences for it,” Condon said, “maybe a lot of public service.”

    Initially, it was believed that the vandal had broken off a hand on the statue as well as the head. In reality, the hand was broken off twenty years ago, said Condon.

    “We had it all along,” Condon said. The cemetery didn”t re-attach it to avoid having it broken off again, he said.

    Once the head was discovered in the backyard, plans were made to return it to the cemetery.

    “The head is on its way up here right now – I”m told it looks pretty good,” Condon said Monday morning. “I”m happy to get our head back.”

    A Provo company, Mormon Memorabilia, will be in charge of trying to put the head back on.

    “We are hopeful that we [they] can make it look good again,” Condon said.

    Those who reported the tip leading to the arrest will receive the reward if there is a conviction, Condon said.

    (For comments, e-mail Richard Dye at )

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