The angel statue that adorned the grave of a young mother's child at Lakeland Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens was reported stolen to police Friday.
LAKELAND — The young mother was heartbroken when she heard the news on Friday. The angel statue which adorned her little girl's grave at Lakeland Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens was gone.
Lauren Carpenter, 25, said she met with the Lakeland Police Department to report it stolen.
She said she was told that “more than likely” police will not be able to find out who took the angel, since there are no cameras at the cemetery.
“We go out there all the time,” Carpenter said. “Me and my mom always go out and bring new flowers. We decorate for every holiday.”
Her mother stopped by the cemetery Friday to check the grave to make sure it didn't suffer damage from a storm the previous night.
“She called and let me know that the whole headstone angel statue was gone,” she said.
Her child was buried at the cemetery six years ago.
At three and a half months old, Aaliyah Marie Jones passed away in December 2013 after complications from cystic fibrosis. She had endured seven surgeries, Carpenter said.
She called Lakeland Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens and spoke to their groundskeeper, then took to social media to see if anyone knew anything.
“I just don't understand who else would have found value in it,” she said. “It has value to me and my family.
“I just really want to see it returned. It means a lot to me and my family. My son is completely heartbroken. He is 3 years old. He said someone stole his best friend.”
Carpenter said that she does not have the means at this time to replace the angel.
“If it is returned, we plan to bring it home with us and save the money to buy her a permanent headstone so we hopefully will never receive another call like that,” she said. “For now, we just hope someone has the heart to return it or possibly comes forward with any information.”
A message left on an answering machine at Lakeland Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens was not returned in time for deadline Saturday. Lakeland Police Department public information spokesperson Robin Tillett said, “This is so sad, I cannot imagine why anyone would do this.”
Tillett said the LPD will continue to look into the matter.
“We hope that the person(s) responsible will do the right thing and return the headstone, which means so much to this family,” she said. “If anyone has any information, we ask that they contact us at 863-834-6900.”
Kathy Leigh Berkowitz can be reached at email@example.com or at 863-802-7558. Follow her on Twitter @kberkowitzthel1.