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Vandals topple, break Sacred Heart statue

7/31/2014

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

PARK -- Teresa Selensky despises the idea of leaving the Sacred Heart statue of Jesus laying on the ground.

But she despises everything surrounding the circumstances leading up to how the Italian marble statue got on the ground -- the heartless work of vandals who also tipped over seven headstones in the Sacred Heart Cemetery in the northeast corner of the Gove County community of 126 residents.

Selensky herself tried and failed to lift the Italian marble statue, deciding to leave it where it is until she has someone take a look at it and see if it can be repaired.

When the statue was toppled from its pedestal sometime on the night of July 18, it broke at the neck, and there was some slight damage to the face.

"The break under the neck was a clean break," Selensky said.

That's why she's not willing to move it, out of fear it might be damaged even more and perhaps become unable to be repaired.

She wondered if insurance would cover the repairs, but she first had to find out if the statue belonged to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where she serves as the part-time church secretary, or if it was a monument belonging to a parishioner.

As it turns out, it was a gift to the church -- bound for the cemetery -- as a memorial to Edwin and Ellamae Zerr, according to cemetery sexton Gilbert Wildeman.

While the damage is believed to have taken place sometime July 18, it wasn't discovered until the next day.

Someone, and it's still unsure who, pushed over seven tombstones, Wildeman said.

The biggest loss, he said, was the statue.

The oldest tombstone tipped over dates to 1933, Selensky said. While it already had been broken and repaired when it was tipped over, it fell apart again into three pieces. It also chipped, but those pieces have been recovered.

"It was that old white stone," she said.

The statue also was chipped, and a family member contacted about it said she still had some of the marble the statue was made of.

How much she has isn't known.

"That statue was bought over in Italy," Selensky said, "shipped to the Gulf of Mexico and then shipped to Park."

She bristles at the entire affair and voiced concern no one has been arrested.

"The investigation into the damage doesn't seem to be going anywhere," Selensky said. "They need to own up to what they did. I don't want them to get off scot-free. I just really want them to pay for what they did."

Gove County Sheriff Allan Weber said no arrests have been made in the case.

The circumstances leading up to the damage are somewhat bizarre and set the town on edge.

Police, she said, have been looking for two "guys who fired off guns" on the night the damage occurred.

The two, she said, apparently ran into some trees in Park and fired guns, and only one came out.

"The locals believe they know who the two people are," she said.

It's not absolutely certain, however, if the two incidents are related, although Weber thinks -- but isn't sure -- they might be.

"I guess, at this point, it's too early to say," he said.

Either way, Selensky wants the people responsible caught.

"It's just disrespectful," she said, a sentiment she said was echoed by her 11-year-old son. "You think of Park as a safe place. It's not anymore."