Turning Angel damaged at Natchez City Cemetery

Published 1:23 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2020

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NATCHEZ — Natchez City Cemetery workers and Natchez Police are assessing damage to the Turning Angel statue that was found this afternoon lying on the ground next to its pedestal.

One of the angel’s wings was broken and cemetery workers were not sure how the statue was removed from its pedestal.

The Turning Angel is a landmark of Natchez and has been in its spot in the Natchez City Cemetery since it was placed there by the owner of the Natchez Drug Company to commemorate the lives of five girls who died in the building when it exploded in 1908.

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The angel statue was dubbed the Turning Angel because it appears to turn at night as cars drive past it along Cemetery Road.

Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong said police are investigating the incident as a destruction of property case and are asked anyone in the area with surveillance cameras to share any video that might help locate possible suspects.

Armstrong later said a nearby homeowner had surveillance video trained on a portion of the cemetery right up to the Turning Angel and video footage did not reveal any evidence of anyone in the vicinity.

“Hopefully somebody will be made to feel guilty about what they’ve done,” said Elise Rushing, president of the Natchez City Cemetery Board. “It is terrible. A cemetery to be desecrated because of . . . I can’t think of any good reason why someone would damage a grave site.”

Rushing said she is not aware of any previous incidents that have damaged the Turning Angel but said other incidents have left minor damage at other sites in the cemetery over the years.

“We have had minor problems from time to time, and mostly it was mischievous,” Rushing said. “I’m not saying this isn’t mischievous.”

Rushing said cemetery workers told her the angel was OK Tuesday morning before they left for lunch at noon. A social media post made at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday showing the angel lying on the ground began being passed around and the cemetery workers returned to see the angel off the pedestal shortly after, Rushing said.

Cemetery workers are making arrangements to locate a monument restoration company to ensure the statue is properly repaired, Rushing said, adding that workers said the wing appeared to be a pretty clean break.

“If it is not something that is just crumbled maybe there would be a way that it could be reattached,” Rushing said. “Hopefully someone can be shamed into admitting that they did something that was pretty bad.”