Friday, May 24

2 memorials vandalized in St Lucie County in less than a week

Law enforcement in St. Lucie County are looking into two memorials that were vandalized this week.

Port St. Lucie police arrested 27-year-old Nicholas Pense of Port St Lucie. Officers said he vandalized a memorial on Veterans Memorial Parkway paying tribute to three young adults, 20-year-old Leah Herman, 16-year-old Draiden Frank, and 18-year-old Jimmy Brown, who were all killed in a car accident this past weekend.

“I’m distraught. It’s honestly disgusting and inhumane for a person to do that,” said Mike Sweeting, Draiden’s brother-in-law.

According to the police report, Pense damaged a cross and flowers and kicked over candles, the broken shard of which still cover the sidewalk.

“He urinated and stomped on all the memorial sightings of everything that was out here,” Sweeting said.

Police said Pense admitted to driving out to the display with the intention of vandalizing it, but didn’t give police a reason why. He told officers he “couldn’t sleep” and kept “thinking about the memorial.”

Police also said he came with a bottle full of his urine, and say they found wax on his shoe and pant leg that matched the candles broken.

“And I just want justice served,” Sweeting said.

On the other side of the county, Susan Morris-Dowdy stood on the side of her son’s memorial on Midway Road in Fort Pierce.

“Theres a couple of Hess trucks, a replica of Blakes bike,” Morris-Dowdy said. “Some of his favorite things.”

Her son, Blake Morris-Dowdy, was killed at the age of 21 when a car hit him on his motorcycle. It happened eight months ago, just a half a mile from his home.

“It just destroyed our family,” Morris-Dowdy said. “He was definitely my angel, the best kid, the most gentle, kind person.”

Yet days away from Blake’s birthday, the first she and her daughter would have to celebrate without him, Morris-Dowdy noticed the helmet signed by each one of his friends that stood at the center of his tribute was missing.

Very difficult for a mother,” Morris-Dowdy said. “I was really shocked and sad. I just couldnt believe somebody would take something so meaningful.”

Morris-Dowdy filed a police report with the St Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.

At this time, there’s no known connection between the two cases, but both families said they feel the same pain.

“Tremendously, words can’t even describe it,” Sweeting said.

“It really hurts,” Morris-Dowdy added. “Youve lost your son and this is just another blow that, may seem insignificant to other people, is so important to my family and to Blakes friends.”

Pense is charged with destroying or demolishing a memorial, a second-degree felony.

WPTV reached out to Pense but did not receive a response.

Morris-Dowdy is now offering a $500 reward to anyone who returns the helmet, no questions asked.

Family and friends of Draiden Frank have since launched a fundraiser page to help with funeral expenses.

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