SALT LAKE CITY -- Two men were arrested for vandalizing a statue of LDS Prophet Brigham Young as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered for the Church's general conference in downtown Salt Lake City on Sunday.
Police said the two men were intoxicated when they went to the Mormon Pioneer Memorial Monument park at 140 E. First Ave. They broke the book off of the statue and started walking down the street with it.
Chris DeSantis recognized the book, called police and led them to the alleged vandals. He said, "I thought, uh oh, that doesn't look good."
He told us by phone he was walking to the conference center Sunday afternoon when he noticed two men staggering, carrying alcohol and the heavy bronze book toward State Street.
He said, "A girl approached them the other way, and one of them reached out to her and said, ‘Would you like a bronze copy of The Book of Mormon?'"
DeSantis said he knew exactly what they were holding and started following 26-year-old Parley Mortensen and 26-year-old Stewart Bodenstab down the street while he called police. His instructions led officers directly to the alleged vandals.
Salt Lake City police spokeswoman Lara Jones said, "People that live there keep an eye out, and that's how we were able to first find out about the vandalism and then catch those who were responsible."
DeSantis said he was happy to help and hoped the statue he loves will be repaired soon.
He said, "These guys probably would have continued down the street, taken the book, and nobody would have ever known where it went … If I could talk to them I would simply say, ‘Gentlemen, I don't think that choice served you very well, and I hope you make better ones in the future.
The two men were arrested for larceny and public intoxication. The bronze book has been returned to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Mormon Pioneer Park is nestled away in downtown Salt Lake City. It's a peaceful little park dedicated to the more than 6,000 pioneers who died on their way to Utah in the mid-1800s. Tourists travel from all over the world to walk through the Mormon Pioneer Memorial Park, the place where Brigham Young is buried.