League 42 has announced that its stolen Jackie Robinson statue has been found seriously damaged. The statue, stolen last Wednesday night from the league located at McAdams Park at 17th Street North and Ohio, was found at Garvey Park in south Wichita, “dismantled and burned.”
Police reports say the Wichita Fire Department got a call around 8:30am Tuesday morning of a trash can fire at Garvey Park. The fire department put the fire out and found what appeared to be remnants of the Jackie Robinson statue.
Statue Suffers $75K In Damages
The Wichita Police Department said the statue is unsalvageable. The statue weighs hundreds of pounds, so damages are estimated at $75,000, according to the City.
“This was a heartbreaking discovery this morning,” Wichita City Council Member Brandon Johnson said. “I hate to see that the statue was not in one piece, but I do want everyone to know that we are undeterred in making sure that that statue gets rebuilt and put back there for our community, for League 42, for the young people. That symbol of hope will only be gone for a short time.”
Now that the statue has been recovered and the worst revealed, Johnson also stressed how important it is to now start the fundraising efforts for a replacement statue.
“This now lets us know that we need a new statue,” Johnson said. “We’re no longer looking for a complete, intact statue. We know now we need to raise money to replace it, and we will do so.”
He asked people to donate to the fund that League 42 has started. Click here for the GoFundMe site.
“Obviously, this is not the result we wanted, but it is a result, and now we can move on,” Bob Lutz, League 42 founder, said. “We know what’s ahead of us. We know we’re going to incorporate a brand-new statue that looks exactly like the old one.”
The Late John Parsons Crafted The Statue
Lutz’s friend, the late John Parsons, crafted the statue.
“Fortunately, the mold from his work is still viable, and the statue that reappears at McAdams Park will be the work of John Parsons,” he said. “In a matter of months, that will be erected at McAdams Park, and we’re looking forward to that day … It’ll be a joyous occasion, unlike today, unlike the past five days. We’re ready for some joy, you know. We’re ready for some happiness, and we’re going to pursue that in the best way we can.”
There were people throughout the baseball community that felt the police weren’t acting quick enough to find the statue and the perpetrators, but Lutz commended the police for the resources they have put into investigating the crime.
“It’s a sad thing that this happened in our community, but I think the way our community is reacting to it could not be better, so we’re going to move forward here and not look back,” he said.
Wichita Police Still Searching For Jackie Robinson Statue Thieves
Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan said police are determined to catch the thieves.
“It’s disheartening to see the remnants of the statue, the disgraceful way in which it’s been disrespected,” he said. “But the other side of that is, this is a direct indication of the pressure our investigators are putting on the perpetrators that committed this act.”
“It would be in your best interest to simply turn yourself in, come forward, admit your part in this, and I’m confident that the DA will consider that. But, either way, we will be arresting several people for what they’ve done to our community.”
Police released surveillance photos and video after the theft. The WPD says investigators with the Property Crimes Bureau worked all weekend, following up on leads. They also got help from the WPD Field Community Response Team.
On Monday afternoon, the WPD announced that investigators were able to find and recover the truck they believe was used in the crime. Police would not comment on whether the owner of the truck is a suspect.