UPDATE: A press release was issued Saturday morning from Pettis County Prosecutor Phillip Sawyer:

In the morning hours of July 24, 2020, the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office took a female suspect into custody at the conclusion of a voluntary interview regarding the “Doughboy” statue that was damaged on the west lawn of the Pettis County Courthouse. At the time of arrest in a public statement and press release, the Sheriff’s Office advised the public this was not a targeted attack, an attempted removal or an intentional act of vandalism/damage. The suspect interview and the proceeding investigation which were subsequently provided to my office are consistent in that regard and I reach the same conclusion.

The suspect was taken into custody on suspicion of institutional vandalism and property damage in the first degree. Both are crimes that by the Revised Statutes of Missouri, require a person to act knowingly, to vandalize, deface or otherwise damage property. Without regard to the value or type of the property the intention of the act remains the same.

The investigation as received and corroborated through witness statements, photos, videos and suspect interview all pronounce the same findings; on July 4th a small group of individuals gathered on the west lawn of the Pettis County Courthouse. One of the individuals determined they would climb the statue for purposes of having a picture taken on it. After the picture was taken the suspect began to climb down and when doing so placed one foot on the gun side of statue for balance, at which point the damage occurred. There is no indication of intent to damage it, expectation that damage would occur, or that any excess force was used to facilitate the damage that was suffered.

It is readily apparent that the suspect was reckless and negligent in her actions and should be held accountable for the damage that occurred. Missouri does not provide for reckless or criminally negligent acts of property damage in the criminal code to allow for criminal prosecution. Pettis County is prepared to and will exercise all legal remedies available through the civil process to compensate for the damages that occurred. The total cost for repair is currently unknown.


 

Pettis County Sheriff Deputies arrested an 18-year-old-man in connection with vandalism that occurred to the statue of a World War 1 Doughboy at the Pettis County Courthouse in the early morning hours of July 4.

Pettis County Deputies have been working since July 6 to find the person or people responsible for the vandalism to the statue. Sheriff's Deputies had a break in the case on Thursday July 23 and were able to identify the person involved in damaging the statue.

The Sheriff's Office says, "This was made possible by numerous tips that had been submitted to the Sheriff's Office by citizens in the community, as well as the cooperation of downtown merchants who provided surveillance video."

Sheriff's Deputies interviewed the suspect this morning and according to the Sheriff's Office, "the memorial was not specifically targeted for vandalism or removal, but that the damage occurred when the suspect climbed up onto the memorial."

The suspect has been placed on a 24-hour hold and the case has been forwarded to the Pettis County Prosecuting Attorney for the filing of charges. Likely charges include Institutional Vandalism which is a class D felony.

The Pettis County Sheriff did not release the suspect's name.

Randy Kirby