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Family says wreath stolen from grave of veteran in South Ogden


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SOUTH OGDEN — Family members said a holiday wreath left at the grave of a longtime public servant and veteran appears to have been stolen, and they were calling on the thief to return it.

Kie Hale said he and others in his family showed up to Washington Heights Memorial Park prior to Thanksgiving and left the wreath at the headstone of his father, Val Dee Hale, who died in April 2017.

On Tuesday morning, he said his mother visited the site and discovered the wreath had vanished.

"She was just devastated because somebody had taken something that didn't belong to them," Hale said.

Hale said he searched the entire area himself and couldn't find any trace of the wreath. He said he struggled to understand why anyone would take something with so much sentimental value to a family.

"If they were as close to their family as I am to mine, they'd understand," he said. "Maybe they come to their senses and reconsider. Maybe they'll bring it back."

Groundskeepers at the cemetery said theft has been an ongoing issue and concern there. A worker said they intercept would-be thieves whenever possible, but they also urged people not to leave anything too valuable at gravesites.

Hale pleaded with whoever took the wreath to return it, noting the priceless sentimental value.

"Even leave a note here, saying, 'I'm sorry,'" Hale suggested. "I wouldn't hold it against them."

Short of that, Hale said he wanted to raise awareness to the theft issue and said he hoped the thieves — wherever they chose to target — would realize the toll taken on grieving families.

"Either way, it's not right," Hale said. "Any of these people here should have the same respect and honor."

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Andrew Adams
Andrew Adams is a reporter for KSL-TV whose work can also be heard on KSL NewsRadio and read on KSL.com and in the Deseret News.

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