Springfield Children’s Memorial vandals appeared to target statues of victims

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Vandals threw rocks through netting and did damage to the Children's Memorial meant to honor young lives lost in Springfield.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Vandals have yet again hit The Children’s Memorial in Springfield — and it seems that they tried to target the statues of two murder victims.

It appears an unknown person or persons climbed to the upper level of the memorial, picked up large rocks and hurled them into the pond below.

The pond does have canopy-like netting above it to guard the fish from birds, but the rocks went right through it. Many of the holes in the netting are above two statues honoring Phree Morrow and Martha Leach, two young girls who were left on the memorial’s site behind Schuler’s Bakery after being brutally murdered in 1992.

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It’s a tough subject for the property’s owner, Vernon Donnelly to talk about. He’s put in about $35,000 into the project over the last few years and he knows the memorial isn’t for him — it’s for the kids that were taken too soon and their families.

“It’s people that evidently don’t care,” he said.

It’s not the first time that the memorial has been targeted since its opening in 2011.

About five years ago, surveillance cameras at the memorial caught teenagers stealing the water pump out of the pond, which resulted in most of the pond’s fish dying.

The lot has also been tagged with graffiti in the past.

The memorial’s cameras were down during this latest vandalism.

Donnelly said he’s aggravated and he’s tired.

He opened the memorial, not because he knew either Morrow, Leach or any of the other families the memorial has grown to honor — but he’s not sure if he’ll be able to keep the memorial open if the vandalism continues.

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Donnelly said he’s grateful for the community’s support, especially during trying times like this.

In the midst of this latest case of vandalism, someone came by the memorial to put an aluminum bat on the hands of one of the girls’ statues — not to destroy, but to defend the pond against people who may try to vandalize the memorial again.

The memorial has received countless donations to spruce up the space over the years, from businesses like Mad River Topsoil and Mechanicsburg Sand and Gravel.

About 50 people have already agreed to come together to clean up the memorial next week. Volunteers will be pulling weeds, laying plastic, planting flowers and cleaning the pond.

There will also be a 50/50 drawing to raise money for the memorial, door prizes, food and the chance to adopt a fish.

The clean up at the memorial is scheduled for May 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Anyone and everyone is welcome.