Published: December 14, 2011
Two bronze statues weighing several hundred pounds each were stolen from the Riverside Cemetery, perhaps in two separate thefts over the weekend of December 10‱1.
Waterbury police are investigating the thefts, which they believe was accomplished with a truck and several people.
One of the statues that was stolen was at the entrance to the cemetery. A central piece is the “Elephant Vase,” flanked on either side by figures representing death and another figure representing hope of the afterlife, according to Phil Benevento, Waterbury’s municipal historian. The figure of death is the one that was stolen. Around the urn is a frieze with four raised panels, each depicting an event in the life of Christ. The sculpture, circa 1830s‴0s, is by George Edwin Bissell (1839‱920) an American sculptor who was commissioned to create other important works, such as the Soldier’s Monument in Waterbury, several statues of Abraham Lincoln and other statesmen, poets and Civil War figures.
The other statue that was stolen, affixed to the Smith headstone in the cemetery, was done by an unknown artist in the Romantic style prevalent in the late 1800s to the turn of the century, according to Benevento, and is a bronze figure of a woman turning her back on the world, writing on the stone of the life to come.
A police detective assigned to the case confirmed that checks were being made of local scrap yards, more than 20 so far in the Waterbury area and beyond.
Anyone with information about these sculptures is asked to call Crimestoppers at 203-755-1234.
Editor Note: These two bronze statues were recovered on December 14 after Waterbury police were notified by an out-of-town scrap dealer that realized it had purchased the stolen property after seeing press reports, according to Waterbury Police Capt. Christopher Corbett. One statue, Death, incurred sligh t damage, but the other one that was part of the Smith monument was reportedly damaged beyond repair, Corbett said. Police have arrested two men in connection with this case.
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