Vandalized memorial bench boggles Cleveland - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Vandalized memorial bench boggles Cleveland

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CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) - "If they don't have anything else better to do, then they need to be thrown in jail!"
That's the best thing Desha Maples can say about whomever it is who threw a bench in honor of Melissa Huggins-Jones into Cleveland's Mouse Creek, not once, but twice since its December inception on the city's popular greenway.
"The people who are doing this they don't know the story behind it, they don't know what happened to the people the bench is named in honor of or in memory of and they need to know that," says Maples emphatically.
Huggins-Jones was killed in a brutal home invasion last May, just two weeks after moving from Cleveland to Raleigh, North Carolina.
Friends like Desha who helped fund the two thousand dollar bench by selling bracelets in Melissa's memory, are crushed by the callousness of the crime, discovered just two days after it's formal dedication two weeks ago
 "When you vandalize something, when you tear it up and throw it in the creek, you're looking at a felony, it's felony vandalism", says Cleveland Police's Public Information Officer Evie West, who says cops are on the case, looking not only to deter further vandalism, but to catch the suspect red-handed.
 "The chief has actually assigned the SROs who are not in school during the summer to do extra patrol here," says West of the 8 and a half miles of greenway.
The bench is a few hundred pounds and was bolted down both times, meaning whomever did it either is very strong or had help.
Cleveland Police are hoping someone will step forward, with a $250 dollar reward now offered for information.
Once restored, the Melissa Huggins-Jones memorial bench will be returning to Cleveland's greenway, but not to its original location.
"We will have the bench moved, the trees if necessary, but it will go to a different location," says Maples.
Anyone with any information can call Cleveland's Police Department at 423-476-7511
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