UPDATE, FOUND!: About 4:30 PM on Tuesday I got a few messages from a friend who had seen our story on Joplin Area Stolen Items. He said he and his girlfriend had been out looking for mushrooms and thought he’d seen it in some brush near the cemetery.
“I met him out there about 5:15 PM and we walked the short distance where it was! He wanted to remain anonymous. Then at some bizarre crossing of paths Jen’s father pulled up in his car!”
Vallen Nelson, the father of Jen Nelson, of whom the butterfly is a memorial to said, “I was just driving by to go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and I saw the KSN car and a couple of guys at the entrance and I thought I’d pull in and see if anyone had heard anything about Jen’s memorial butterfly.”
Shannon then filled in Vallen and his wife Katarine
So with the Mount Hope Groundskeeper, Vallen Nelson, helped carry it out of the brush on property to the south of the cemetery, “it was surreal. something you can’t make up.” Shannon Becker says.
“So my mushroom hunting friend shows me where he discovered it and then before I could even take it out of the brush the dad had pulled up! lol”
Vallen Nelson tells us in a recorded interview, “If you saw me yesterday i would have had tears down my face. But today it’s joy!”
ORIGINAL STORY WEBB CITY, Mo. – Sometime Sunday a Memorial Butterfly was stolen from the main entrance of Mount Hope Cemetery. General Manager Travis Boyd tells us it was placed at the main entrance a few years ago by a local family to honor their daughter, Jen Nelson, who is buried at the cemetery.
The Memorial Butterfly is a large metal art piece. Featuring a prominent inscription, making it obvious it’s dedicated to someone’s memory, “Jen, A Bride of Christ Jesus, Fly High Baby Girl.”
One of Jen’s best friends is our friend too, Chrissy Landberg tells us, “It is still hard to believe that she is gone sometimes. And I love being able to see her butterfly.”
The 4′ tall and 4′ wide metal butterfly is noticeable to anyone driving on North Rangeline. Located prominently at the entrance to the historic cemetery. You can even see it on Google Maps from past years.
“We have cameras but none that point to the road,” Boyd states. “It would have happened between 3:00 PM Sunday to Monday morning.” And people coninually drive North Rangeline so someone would have seen it happening he emphasized noting that someone had to have tools to take it off the concrete pad where it was attached, and that would take some time and planning.
Landberg says, her friend Jen, “left behind a son and many friends and family. I drive by here often and it brings a smile to my face each time I see this butterfly because it makes me think of Jen’s bright smile.”
“We just want it back. No questions asked.” Boyd states. They can return it to the cemetery.
If anyone has any information on the stolen Memorial Butterfly contact the Webb City Police Department, 417-673-1911.