Stolen Botetourt County church memorial bench found 150+ miles away in N.C.

Bench dedicated in honor of Bonnie Caldwell

BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. – A bench stolen from a Botetourt County church has been found.

A family member of Bonnie Caldwell, who the bench is dedicated to, told 10 News that it was found by a retired policeman who was on a walk in the Uwharrie National Forest in North Carolina.

The retired officer saw the bench at a campsite and Googled the name. That’s when he learned the bench was stolen.

The bench is currently being held at the Montgomery County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Office.

There are no suspects at this time.

The family member did not tell 10 News when the bench was found.

Original story published Dec. 8, 2019

“It was very heartbreaking for the whole family," Terry Tucker said about the theft of the bench dedicated in her mother’s honor.

Tucker’s family is devastated.

“(It’s) a big metal bench made by Twists and Turns, seats three adults, has butterflies on the back of it because that was kind of mon’s thing - butterflies. The two pieces on the ends are cut out. The one in the middle was a solid piece that had the words cut out, ‘In Memory of Bonnie Caldwell,’” Tucker said.

All that remains are the stone blocks the bench had been sitting on for four and a half years.

“We could buy another bench, that’s not the problem, but this bench was dedicated to the Lord in momma’s memory,” said Tucker.

Exactly when the bench was stolen is unclear.

Church elder Richard Thompson said the bench was there on the day after Thanksgiving, but two days later, church members noticed it missing when they arrived for Sunday service.

“I guess, first, was anger that somebody would steal something that was given to the church in memory of such a beloved member of our church, and just disbelief,” Thompson said when asked what his initial reaction was.

About a week prior to the bench going missing, the church’s barbecue grill was stolen.

The Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office is offering $150 for information that leads to the arrest of whoever stole the bench.

“I’d plead for them to bring it back, to let them know how much it meant to the family and the church. If it just appeared here one morning, nothing would be said. Our mission at our church is to have compassion. If this person needs help, our church would be open to help them,” Thompson said.

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