Police seek statue’s vandals

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 20, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

The 4,000-pound jade statue of General Jing Ke survived being shipped from China to Virginia more than three decades ago.

For years, the statue of the revered Chinese leader has safely stood watch over a Virginia Beach antique shop owned by John and Nonie Waller, who bought it while traveling in China.

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The statue made its final move to Suffolk just over a week ago, when John Waller donated the $35,000 piece of art to the Hampton Roads Youth Center. Ke was outside his new home for just days before vandals decapitated him.

Richard Munchel, the HRYC’s executive director, found the vandalized statue when he arrived at the residential school on Kenyon Road Tuesday morning, said Detective John Jones, an investigator with the Suffolk Police Department. Authorities found tracks from a four-wheeler at the scene and suspect one or more teen-agers from nearby neighborhoods who frequently ride their vehicles on the property are responsible.

This is the second incident of vandalism in the area believed to be the work of teens riding all-terrain vehicles. In early spring, several neighborhood juveniles riding ATVs were charged with vandalizing the Southwest Suffolk Bypass while it was still under construction, Jones said.

Munchel said he believes the statue’s head snapped off when the vandals looped a rope around its neck and tried to pull it down with their four-wheeler. The head fell into the mulch around the statue and broke into three chunks.

A stone company has the head now, trying to determine whether it can repaired and put back on the statue, he said.

Munchel said he hasn’t decided whether he will press charges if the vandals are caught.

&uot;Whether someone goes to jail is irrelevant to me,&uot; Munchel said. &uot;It’s more important to me that the person who did this understand how his action is impacting other people’s lives and that he develop a sense of responsibility and respect for others and their property.&uot;

Waller donated the statue of Ke as a tribute to his late wife, who loved children and loved the statue and the ideals it represents to the Chinese people.

According to Munchel, Ke, who ruled part of China in 100 B.C., is remembered for his care and compassion in leading the Chinese people.

&uot;Money is not the biggest issue here,&uot; Munchel said. &uot;It’s the sadness and pain this is causing to Mr. Waller and it is a loss to the kids who will be coming here (when the school opens in September).

&uot;People who do vandalism … need to appreciate that other human souls and emotions are attached to the item they are destroying. They need to understand that somebody’s life is saddened by their actions.&uot;

Contact Jones at the Suffolk Police Department, 923-2350.