Becker family furious son's headstone statue is removed, taken from cemetery

The pain of losing a child never goes away, but neither do the memories.

In 2006, the Connoy family lost Jacob, their son and brother, at the age of 27, and laid him to rest at Orono Cemetery in Elk River.

"He was endearing. He was sentimental. He was a good kid," his mother, Sandy, told FOX 9.

They placed a small, cement statue on his headstone of a little boy with a dog and a book, a sculpture that perfectly represented everything the animal lover and avid reader adored.

The cemetery was once full of personalized decorations and memorials like this and Sandy says the community took care of their own.

"It was so moving when you walked there. I was always watering other people's plants and people did that same for us," said Sandy.

But after the longtime cemetery caretaker passed away, they were dismayed to discover their statue and other belongings had been removed from Jacob's headstone and was tossed aside.

"We got out of the car and we were like, 'What happened?' The cemetery was empty," said Sandy.

"We feel like they should have contacted us at least," said Steven, Jacob's dad.

FOX 9 spoke with another woman who says items were also taken off their infant brother's headstone. 

"We are not the only ones. There are many people who are very upset over it," said Sandy. 

Orono Cemetery is run by a volunteer board made up of six trustees, and one of those trustees tells FOX 9 a sign was posted for six weeks alerting families about an upcoming cleanup. 

They added rules regarding personal memorials have been in place for 40 years, but they haven't been enforced until now. Items were removed and placed near the entrance of the property so families could pick them up, but they insist nothing was thrown away. 

The Connoy's say they never saw that sign alerting people of the clean up and their special statue is still missing. 

"(It was) thrown in a pile at the front of the cemetery and then people who we met there that day said some people came along and piled it up in their trunk and left," said Sandy. 

Nothing can change what happened now, and all Steven and Sandy want is for their priceless property to be returned. 

"We would just like to get the statue back somehow because we can't replace it," said Steven. 

"It would mean everything to us if we got that back," added Sandy.