NEW LONDON - Police are expecting to charge four teenagers, ages 16 to 17, in connection with damage to the 110-year-old War Memorial monument last week. Two of the suspects are from Fitchville Township and rural New London and the other two live in the village.
"The (two) boys are the ones (who) damaged the statue," New London Police Chief Mark Holden said. "The (two) girls are involved because they lied to us, had possession of some of the pieces and provided false information to the investigating officer."
The chief said the two boys could be charged with vandalism, "maybe even theft." "The girls could be charged with some form of obstruction of official business," he added.
Police forwarded a report to the Huron County Prosecutor's Office for the consideration of charges.
Holden noticed the rifle the Civil War-era soldier was holding was broken into several pieces, most of which had been taken away, between 8:15 and 8:20 p.m. last Monday. Police were able to recover only a few smaller pieces of the marble statue, located at Memorial Park off Kirk and North Main streets.
"I was going to dinner and saw the rifle was gone," Holden said.
Witnesses reported seeing teenage boys with a basketball in the area after the vandalism incident. Another witness reportedly saw a basketball inside the memorial fence.
"We were able to recover most of (the pieces), but it's irreparable," Holden said. "We're not able to patch it back together."
One tip from a citizen provided the biggest lead in the investigation.
"Officer Josh Wilson was the investigating officer and cleared the case within 24 hours," Holden said. "He did a great job on it."
Holden has contacted Franklin Monument in Norwalk about making a brass mold to cast a new rifle.
"I don't know how you'd put a price on it," the chief said. "The replacement cost will be expensive. You'll never be able to replace it."
The Women's Relief Core erected the War Memorial statue in 1897.
Holden said an intoxicated male suspect was apprehended several years ago after he climbed on the statue and attempted to a put a beer in the soldier's hand.