MARIETTA - The Marietta Police Department is seeking help from the public to locate the suspects who put a chain around Marietta High School's painted "Spirit Rock" early Sunday morning and dragged the boulder approximately seven miles from the school campus to a driveway along D.A.V. Road in Muskingum Township.
"We believe the rock was removed between 2 and 4 a.m. Sunday," said investigating Marietta Police Officer Errol Kramer.
The rock scraped an easily visible trail from the school down Acadamy Drive and along Colegate Drive to the Warren's IGA plaza parking lot, then across the parking lot to Muskingum Drive (Ohio 60), and on to the intersection with Ohio 821.
A crew re-sets Marietta High School’s “Spirit Rock” near the school entrance Sunday afternoon. The boulder was stolen sometime early Sunday morning and dragged to D.A.V. Road in Muskingum Township. (Photo by Sam Shawver)
"They apparently lost the rock at the Ohio 60 and 821 intersection and had to hook it back up," Kramer said. "Because they didn't just leave it there we believe they had pre-determined where they were going to take it."
The boulder ended up in the middle of a driveway entrance to a farm field at 725 D.A.V. Road, but with some help from Gary's Towing Service the rock was moved back to its original location by 5 p.m. Sunday.
"We have collected some evidence," Kramer added. "Some pieces of a truck were found along the route, and we believe there will be some video footage available (today)."
Video surveillance cameras are installed at the high school and at the Chase Bank in the IGA plaza, but Kramer said footage from those cameras would not be available for reviewing until today. In the meantime, any witnesses or others with information about the crime should contact the Marietta Police Department at (740) 376-2007.
The Spirit Rock was placed at the entrance to the MHS campus by the Class of 1969, and has been painted by various classes every year, according to Dave Davis, transportation, buildings and grounds manager for Marietta City Schools.
Davis was alerted to the theft by school custodian Troy Lee.
"I was called by (former custodian) Don Fleming," Lee said. "I came up to the school and then called Dave who told me to call the police."
Lee said the rock has been the subject of vandalism before.
"It's been tipped over a few times - but never something like this," he said.
Davis suggested the suspects could face a slew of charges including theft, destruction of property, vandalism, criminal trespassing and damage to city, county and state roadways.
Kramer said charges are still pending, and nothing formal has been filed at this time.
Bud Miller, who lives along Ohio 821, followed the trail scraped by the rock to the high school parking lot Sunday afternoon.
"This was very dangerous. It would have taken a 2-ton truck to haul that rock," he said. "It just doesn't make much sense to me why anyone would do this."