'She's back!' | Sister of Liberty statue recovered

Monday, October 1, 2012 ~ Updated 12:22 PM
Marshall Police Officer Steven Stewart and Police Chief Mike Donnell unload the Sister of Liberty Statue after recovering it from a Blackwater family who discovered it. (Eric Crump/Democrat-News)

Marshall Park Director Jeff Stubblefield was not the only one who thought the Sister of Liberty statue -- stolen during the night Aug. 5 -- was gone for good.

So he was surprised, and delighted, to receive a call shortly before 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1, from someone who suggested he contact a Blackwater youth who "found something you might want," he said.

Stubblefield and Marshall Police Chief Mike Donnell made the trip to Blackwater and discovered that what the youth found was, indeed, something they wanted.

Jeff Stubblefield was a happy park director Monday night, Oct. 1, after retrieving the Sister of Liberty from a Blackwater family who found the stolen statue along the Blackwater River. (Eric Crump/Democrat-News)

It was the Sister of Liberty statue.

The youth was walking along the Blackwater River recently with his mother when he saw something odd sticking out of the mud, according to Stubblefield.

They started digging, and the more they uncovered the more they suspected they had found the missing statue.

Sister of Liberty, who was being held in protective custody Monday night after Park Director Jeff Stubblefield and Police Chief Mike Donnell recovered her from a Blackwater family who unearthed the statue from Blackwater River mud. (Eric Crump/Democrat-News)

The family was able to extract the statue from the mud, took it home and cleaned it up. Stubblefield said the youth asked to remain anonymous.

The statue did not come out of the ordeal unscathed, however. Several of the rays in her crown are bent. One is missing. Her head is dented.

But Stubblefield said he isn't worried about a few dings.

"I don't think there's anything there Beno (Messer) can't fix," Stubblefield said. "It was in worse shape when we took it to him the first time."

In 2011, Messer completely restored the 60-year-old statue. A re-dedication ceremony was held on Veterans' Day 2011 after the rerfurbished statue was installed and improved grounds were finished.

The recovery of the statue came just in time, too. Stubblefield had started the process of getting a replacement statue made.

"I just talked to a bronze sculptor today about replacing her," he said.

After the statue is repaired, Stubblefield plans to return her to her station at the north entrance to Indian Foothills Park.

Security improvements will be made, he said, to help prevent a recurrence of the theft.

"We will take stronger measures," he said. "It's good to have her back."

Donnell said the discovery of the statue did not yield clues about the perpetrators of the theft, but the case remains open.

Contact Eric Crump at ecrump@marshallnews.com

Related stories:
Marshall's Sister of Liberty statue stolen
Marshall park board approves budget, learns of plans to replace stolen statue

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  • Good deal!!!!

    -- Posted by Deadliest Catch on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 8:33 PM
  • Can't wait to hear the rest of the story!

    -- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 8:49 PM
  • Wonderful!,, just passed the park today and the little one that was browwered just look WRONG , thanks to the family who found it and understood it was something important !

    -- Posted by left n sf on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 8:55 PM
  • LOL, Amy. People can think up the wildest things. What I found odd in this story is that, this youth and his mother, found the statue, dug it out of the mud, took it home, cleaned it up, AND THEN, Stubblefield gets a call, to call someone who found something he might want????? I know that she was in the mud on the riverbank, but something smells kinda fishy to me.

    -- Posted by jammer on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 9:22 PM
  • Glad to hear that shes coming back!Its a shame it was cleaned up and will have no evidence, but at least the hunt is over. Eric, curious to know...Do they get the "reward for information leading to the statue"? Either way,at least shes coming back home.

    P.S., I don't want it to seem like I don't think they should get the reward, truly just wondering!!

    -- Posted by Tank on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 10:04 PM
  • i'm glad my investigative skills helped to crack this case!

    -- Posted by SecretAgentMichaelScarn on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 10:10 PM
  • Glad its back but there is something odd about the way it was retrieved and ended up being reported to Stubblefield. However, it is up to the authorities to determine if the scenario was fishy or not. As an artifact with community significance, the original statue is more certainly more important than a replacement would have been.

    -- Posted by Mountain Lion on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 10:10 PM
  • Yeah! The Sister is going to be back where she belongs when Beno gets done with her. Can we wire her like an electric fence this time so there's no shenanigans???

    -- Posted by captaingbb on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 10:16 PM
  • The only thing fishy is the smell of the statue. Leave them alone. Trolls nothing but trolls. The main reason everyone wanted to remain anonymous is because of gossiping and slanderous trolls.

    -- Posted by person65340 on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 10:21 PM
  • Person65340,

    You may think that, but being anonymous can tend to make people speak there mind more. If everyone had real names, people wouldn't want to speak there mind only for others to hate it and say " That's it! They work at this place, and from now on we're not going to that place anymore!" I haven't seen any " trolls "...Just people with different opinions. Since your username isn't your real name, are you a troll then too? A little investigating on this wouldn't hurt, just to be on the safe side of things. After all, this is a pretty big ordeal.

    -- Posted by Tank on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 10:45 PM
  • I am glad it will be back. I am disturbed that this was probably done by someone(s) local. Do they not understand what she symbolizes? We are a country of immigrants. Unless you are descended from native Americans you are descended from immigrants. This country did, and continues to welcome them and offer them the opportunity to have a better life and perhaps achieve the American dream. Our little Lady Liberty is a local symbol and reminder of what Lady Liberty in New York harbor represents. How disrespectfully she was treated.

    -- Posted by momaster on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 7:32 AM
  • Wonderful!!!!

    -- Posted by etc555 on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 8:16 AM
  • I figured it was long since melted down. Glad I was wrong.

    This "took it home and cleaned it up" thing is what throws up a red flag to me. Why wouldn't they have just called immediately? Without anyone else seeing it with the mud on it, how do we know for sure that it was in the river at all?

    -- Posted by outsider on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 8:48 AM
  • Hmmmm.... called Stubblefield instead of the Sherrif. Kinda wacky.

    -- Posted by What the f...... on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 10:51 AM
  • just be glade it's back...

    -- Posted by outlaw11 on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 11:00 AM
  • As I understand it, officials do not believe the folks who discovered the statue had any connection to the theft.

    -- Posted by Eric Crump on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 12:24 PM
  • Great News! Conspiracy theorists, stand down.

    -- Posted by pitbull on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 1:11 PM
  • Glad she is back and great picture of Jeff, you can see how happy he is!!!

    -- Posted by interesting1 on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 2:58 PM
  • To bad they cleaned it!

    -- Posted by Jo on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 4:38 PM
  • Good News

    -- Posted by ghostwriter1978 on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 6:45 PM
  • Now i'm confused. This article seems to indicate that the people who found it dug it out of the mud, took it home, cleaned it up and then called Stubblefield. The report on KMMO (and also on their web page) said "STUBBLEFIELD SAYS THE STATUE HAD BEEN LOCATED UNDER A BRIDGE ON THE BLACKWATER ON ROUTE DOUBLE "U".

    AFTER THE CALL HE GOT THE POLICE CHIEF, AND ANOTHER OFFICER AND WENT TO THE RIVER" which seems to indicate they saw it at the river under the bridge. The two "reports" aren't jiving.

    -- Posted by momaster on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 7:39 PM
  • What the f....why would they call the sheriff? The incident happened in the city of Marshall, and I don't think Blackwater is in Saline County, not totally sure about that, but regardless, why is it wacky that they didn't call the sheriff?

    -- Posted by jammer on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 10:13 PM
  • You all should be glad that she's back & the Mom & the Son was 2 good Samartains found her under the bridge from all the rains & her husband must'a been a farmer with a tractor with a bucket lift & chain & lifted her up & thats why it was cracked & yes they should get the money & you all are just jealous since you all didn't find her or get the money, & the reason of why they cleaned it up is cause she was too packed with mud & whomever that came & picked it up will be clean & noticeable. Spook

    -- Posted by spook on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 12:09 AM
  • Jeez Jammer,

    I don't know. Maybe because everytime I have found a 6 foot statue of liberty on a river bank in the middle of nowhere I've always thought there might have been foul play involved and perhaps I should alert the authorities. By that's just me. What would you do?

    -- Posted by What the f...... on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 8:45 AM
  • "from all the rains"

    huh?? Actually...I was wondering where there was enough mud this summer to cover up something of that size.

    -- Posted by outsider on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 8:48 AM
    Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
    The statue was stolen Aug. 5. The remains of Hurricane Isaac dropped several inches of rain on the area Aug. 31.
  • Spook, I don't think anyone is jealous. Especially about the money that they didn't get. Can we not suspect foul play? Like I've said before, this was a huge deal for Marshall. And I'm pretty sure even the people who found it know that.. Police should have been notified first. Heck I wouldn't have even moved it any more once i realized it was the stolen Sister of Liberty. That can compromise many things..and also, it can and did damage the statue from the way you made it sound.

    -- Posted by Tank on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 12:20 PM
    Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
    Parks Director Jeff Stubblefield said the damage to the statue appears to have been caused from it being thrown head-first from the bridge.
  • What the F....my apologies. I see what you're saying. It appears that the initial call to contact this individual went to Stubblefield, so now I realize what you're saying. Yeah, I agree, I think my first reaction would be to contact authorities versus the park director. I misunderstood the chain of events, so I apologize for questioning your comment. Hopefully though, the responsible parties for the theft will be punished.

    -- Posted by jammer on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 4:14 PM
  • Oh, well I have to admit that makes sense. Such a senseless thing to do that to a monument like that. Thanks for the repsonse Eric.

    -- Posted by Tank on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 10:10 PM
  • Just glad to know she is coming home. I am just so concerned about the crime in our area. It seems to be increasing at an alarming rate. This was the worst incident, but then the Smith smoker was stolen in broad daylight! Does anyone know if that was ever found?

    -- Posted by packardman on Thu, Oct 4, 2012, at 12:07 PM
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