Police recover statue parts

YOUNGSTOWN – Police found the body of a statue broken off at the ankles from a far East Side cemetery late last month. A second person is facing charges in the theft.

Patrolman David Santangelo, who investigates crimes involving the theft of metals, said the statue part was recovered Friday from a scrap yard in Warren and returned to the Mahoning Valley Memorial Park, where it was on display on Youngstown-Hubbard Road.

The hands, legs, rifle and other parts of the statue were cut off the body when it was recovered. Other parts were found previously in a Girard recycling yard.

The 4-foot-tall statue and grave marker for a veteran were stolen from the park.

Police arrested Richard Couturiaux, 30, of Hubbard, on a charge of theft of the statue. He was arraigned in Girard Municipal Court last week and is in the Trumbull County Jail in lieu of more than $82,000 bond. He waived his preliminary hearing last week on charges of theft and receiving stolen property, and his case was bound over to a Trumbull County Common Pleas grand jury.

The grave marker was found April 1 at a home in Brookfield, and police Chief Daniel Faustino said the owner of the home is expected to be arrested this week on receiving stolen property charges. That person was also arrested by Hubbard police on breaking and entering charges on accusations of breaking into a garage, Faustino said, and also is in the Trumbull County Jail.

Santangelo said the body of the statue was at a scrap yard in Sharon, Pa., before it was moved to Warren, and he was able to track it there and retrieve it Friday. He said he returned it to the park Friday afternoon.

Youngstown officials have still not decided what charges to file against Couturiaux yet, he said.

Earlier, about eight pieces of the statue were recovered at the Girard scrap yard.

Faustino said officers received a tip that Couturiaux was at the home in Brookfield and that the grave marker was there. When questioning him and the homeowner, the homeowner was evasive enough to prod the officer to ask more questions, and he eventually found the grave marker in the garage, Faustino said.

Gary Pollock, the overseer of the cemetery, said he has received calls from veterans groups and people as far away as Zanesville and Mogadore willing to donate their time and resources to help put the statue back together.

”I’m pleased with the unsolicited response we got from the people who’ve called,” Pollock said.

The statue is close to 40 years old and Pollock said plans are to repair the statue rather than buy a new one because that would be cheaper. Some estimates for a new one run as high as $36,000, but that is a for a life-sized statue, he added.

Pollock said he can not figure out why someone would desecrate a memorial and steal another from a graveyard.

”I don’t understand,” Pollock said.