Reward offered for return of memorial bench stolen from church

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EAGLE ROCK, Va. (WDBJ7) - The Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office is offering a $150 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for stealing a wrought iron bench from a church.

Photo courtesy Terry Tucker

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Dave Moyer at 540-928-2260 or Dmoyer@botetourtva.gov.

Responding to the theft, Terry Tucker says, "It was just like reopening the grief. You know you heal from grief a little bit at a time but that, it's just brought it all back to the whole family."

Sunday morning, a friend discovered a bench with the name Bonnie Caldwell was missing from its normal spot outside Galatia Presbyterian Church in Eagle Rock. Bonnie Caldwell is Terry's late mother.

"Good country woman, had lived in Botetourt her entire life. Until she was 70 years old, she lived in the same house," said Tucker.

Caldwell also highly valued her church. It's where she is buried. So to honor her, her family designed a bench with butterflies on it at Twist and Turn in Roanoke, just a few months after Caldwell's death in 2015.

"Heavy metal bench, seats probably three adults, and we put in at the entrance of the church, and daddy put it on blocks and kind of keeps mulch around it and everything," said Tucker.

But sometime between Friday night and Sunday morning, the bench was taken from its spot. Sunday afternoon, Tucker turned to Facebook.

"368 people shared it, people I don't even know, because really I just put it on there for the local people to see it and that makes you realize there really are a lot more good people in the world than there is bad," said Tucker.

While many people have commented ideas, the bench is still missing. January will make the official five-year mark of Terry's mom's passing, which makes the whole ordeal that much harder.

But the family hasn't given up that maybe a good person will shine through, and maybe the memory of Bonnie will continue to have something tangible.

According to the sheriff's office, there will be more patrols in the area, since a grill was also stolen from church property last week.

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Photo courtesy Terry Tucker
Photo courtesy Terry Tucker