Since moving to Payson in 1996, my wife, Debbie, and I have come to admire and respect how many residents take pride in their homes, landscaping and yard work.
As our children grew up and started wanting to walk to school or to a friend's house, ride their bikes, and eventually drive, we often found ourselves using distinctive landmarks to help them get their bearings.
One of these memorable landmarks was a beautiful wooden, hand-carved and painted Kachina doll yard ornament at an intersection that connected two large neighborhoods. The ornament stood 6 feet tall and was adorned at the top with three wooden feathers. I'm sure many of our readers know the landmark.
The Native North American Hopi people use the colorful Kachina to represent the spirits of their ancestors. It reminds them of who they are, where they come from, and where they are going.
We always told our children to look for that Kachina, and they will know where to turn.
A few weeks ago the ornament was gone -- cut off below the knees and stolen.
As I looked at the splintered stump where the Kachina always stood pointing the way, I wondered if those responsible really knew what they had done. I wondered if the thieves understood that they did not just steal a piece of wood, they stole something from the community that is extremely difficult to replace -- that comforting sense of trust and security that makes towns like Payson so special.
Our crime reporter Michael Maresh mentioned the stolen Kachina in his Feb. 9 story about vandalism statistics. It included a photograph of the missing statue. Shortly after the story broke, the Kachina was recovered, but damaged beyond repair. It was found out toward the end of Granite Dells Road. The only clue left by the thieves are the words, "Krista's Indian Man" written on the Kachina's head.
In closing, I would like to share a letter from the homeowners who were the victims of this crime. Please keep in mind that the name "Krista" may not be a person associated with the crime. In their letter, the homeowners used the name to represent whoever was responsible.
I hope parents and grandparents will share it with their children.
-- Richard Haddad, Roundup publisher
Thanks to the Payson Roundup newspaper photo, an alert horseback rider, and the Payson Police Department, our stolen Kachina was found and returned.
Unfortunately, it was damaged beyond repair, and had to be destroyed.
Because of a "childish prank" it cannot be displayed in our yard for everyone to enjoy.
To Krista and her "friends:" What or who gave you the right to come onto our property and take a piece of art?
It's called stealing. It is against the law and morally wrong.
Krista, it was not YOUR "Indian man." Mr. Jones spent many hours carving the Kachina out of a ponderosa pine log, and many more hours painting it.
Where are the parents when these young people are out in the middle of the night?
How sad that we cannot have something nice on our own property.
Harry and Susie Jones
Anyone with information about this, or other recent cases of vandalism should contact the Payson Police Department at (928) 474-5177.