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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy Our Lady Mother of Mercy Center The Our Lady of Grace statue was recently stolen but later recovered at a home in rural Wawaka.

Friday, August 11, 2017 1:00 am

Police find Our Lady statue on porch of Wawaka home

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

The statue of Our Lady of Grace is back at Our Lady Mother of Mercy Center in Rome City.

The treasured 50-inch statue, boldly stolen between 2 p.m. Aug. 2 and 9 a.m. the next day from its outdoor place at the historic Kneipp Springs on the center's property, was found about 11:30 p.m. Thursday on the front porch of a home in rural Wawaka.

“We are absolutely elated to have her back and in one piece,” said Sheri McBride, the center's executive director. “We're going to bolt her down.” 

The statue that weighed about 50 pounds was temporarily attached to the column with concrete adhesive.

“But that's going to change,” McBride said. 

An anonymous tip led police to the Wawaka home, said Rome City Town Marshal James “Jim” Sheffield, who credited its prompt return to social media.

“I'm personally grateful for the overwhelming response and public assistance in recovering that before it got damaged,” Sheffield said Thursday. 

Sheffield said the statue was light enough for one person to carry off. If the statue had been made of concrete rather than the composite product, it could have weighed as much as 500 to 600 pounds.

No suspect has been named because law enforcement “has yet to interview the person where it was found,” according to Sheffield.

The police have not come up with a motive.

“It seems like they just liked the statue,” Sheffield said.

McBride said the statue was donated this year and put into place in June. It's the center's goal to fill the grounds with more statuary, she added.

A GoFundMe campaign was started on the center's Facebook page to replace it.

When the statue, which Sheffield valued at between $500 and $600, was returned, the center's Facebook page posted that money raised “will be used to ensure the statue is properly secured with upgraded security. Any remaining monies will be used to purchase a statue of Saint Joseph.”

Sheffield said there have been several instances in the past year where churches and other religious venues have been vandalized in northeastern Indiana.

But in this case, vandalism wasn't the problem.

“There was no evidence it was damaged at the scene,” Sheffield said.