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Monument stolen from Gum Branch grave
Liberty County Sheriff's Office investigates theft of decorative angel
A decorative angel was stolen from the gravesite of Elke Hester, the daughter of Cathy Lyons and stepdaughter of her husband, Garden City police Chief David Lyons, in the Gum Branch Baptist Church Cemetery. - photo by Lewis Levine

Garden City police Chief David Lyons has seen and investigated all types of crimes over the years, but never in his wildest dreams did he think he and his wife, Cathy, would be the victims of a theft.

But it happened. The Lyonses learned that a decorative angel, which stood on top of stepdaughter Elke Hester’s grave marker in the Gum Branch Baptist Church Cemetery, was stolen recently.

David Lyons said in an interview Sunday near his stepdaughter’s burial plot he had investigated the theft of flowers from graves, but never a decorative statue.

“I’ve been in this business a long time, and I’ve seen grave sites vandalized, tombstones knocked over, churches burned, all the above,” he said. “But I’ve never experienced someone stealing something other than flower arrangements. People steal flower arrangements all the time. But steal a monument doesn’t make any sense — never heard of that, never experienced that.”

Lyons said the 2-foot Italian marble angel statue, which was holding a rose, had been perched atop the headstone since 2004 and was last seen Nov. 13, when Cathy Lyons decorated the grave site with poinsettia flowers. Noticing that the angel and headstone needed to be cleaned, the couple hired a maintenance man.

When the maintenance man arrived Dec. 1, he called David Lyons to ensure that he was at the correct grave site because the angel was missing. Lyons instructed the maintenance man to send him a photo through his cellphone. When Lyons received it, he was shocked to see that the angel missing.

“When we learned the angel was missing, we were shocked first, and then devastation and disbelief came in,” Lyons said. “That angel was put there for a purpose. That angel gave us great comfort, and somebody took that away for whatever reason.”

Lyons is at a loss for words as to why someone would take the angel. He said he is unaware of any place that would purchase a monument removed from a cemetery.

“Nobody would buy that, so it’s not of value as far as selling it,” he said. “It’s worth far more to us than to whoever took it.”

Lyons said the angel might have been stolen to decorate a shrine or is being used by a cult, or the culprit actually did hope to sell it.
He said he wants his stepdaughter’s angel back in no uncertain terms.

“All I know is our angel is gone, and quite frankly, we want it back,” Lyons said. “And we want to know who took it.”

Lyons said Hester died in November 2003 and was his wife’s only child.

Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Detective Dustin Rushing is investigating the theft. Rushing said whoever took the monument appears to have knowledge on how monuments are mounted.

“It appears it was attached fairly well with some type of epoxy glue and a threaded rod mounted in the bottom of the angel,” Rushing said.

The statue is valued at $5,000 and Rushing asks that anyone with information on what might have happened to the angel contact the Sheriff’s Office detective division at 876-4555.

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