Statues stolen from Canton church found damaged

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 3:33 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Statues belonging to a church in Canton were stolen and damaged last month. The pastor and local authorities are trying to find out who damaged them and how they ended up on a college campus.

On January 29 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Father Brian Stitt discovered three statues in the Divine Mercy Chapel were missing.

The Canton chapel is being refurbished so Stitt initially thought the statues were simply moved.

It turns out the statues were stolen.

Security footage shows them in the bed of a pickup truck that drove away.

According to Stitt, the statues are more than 100 years old and are very meaningful to parishioners.

“Imagine if someone came into your house and you had a picture of a grandmother or another loved one in an antique frame, and they came into your house and took it and they broke it,” he said.

The statues were found in front of Gunnison Memorial Chapel on St. Lawrence University’s campus. They were damaged. They have been returned to St. Mary’s.

“Major damage along the back all the way through and actually there’s crack lines all the way around. This is the one with most concern, might not be salvageable,” Father Stitt said, pointing out the damage. “I don’t think there was malicious intent. I just hope there’s room for conversion.”

Canton police are investigating but did not provide any details.

St. Lawrence County District Attorney Gary Pasqua says there are multiple persons of interest.

He says some may be St. Lawrence University students but not all were.

In a statement, SLU said, “We are aware of and support the ongoing police investigation, and we will cooperate fully with local law enforcement.”

As to what charges could be filed, Pasqua says larceny, grand larceny, and criminal mischief could all be on the table depending on what evidence is found.

While the church does have insurance, Stitt says he wants to see wrongs righted.

“There needs to be restitution. Someone needs to pay for the replacements. That just seems obvious to me,” he said.