Family and friends of a recently deceased teenage girl say a plaque at Memory Point within the J. Kenneth Smith Bird Sanctuary and Nature Center has been vandalized.
Heather Fine posted photos Tuesday in the Roswell Events & Happenings group of the stone plaque before and after the vandalism took place. The plaque is dedicated to Keilah Nicole Renteria, a 17-year-old Roswell resident who died in March.
“There are no words to properly describe the disgust, hurt and anger that are being felt by the family of Keilah Renteria,” Fine said in the post. “The disrespect and destruction of her memorial by unknown individual(s) has done nothing more than bring further heartache and pain to a family still grieving the loss of this beautiful girl.”
Fine, a former Roswell resident who now lives in Florida — and whose daughter was a friend of Keilah — said she wants people to contact her through Facebook instant messenger with any information about who was responsible for the vandalism.
A photo of the plaque after it was damaged shows three of four small glass jars that were attached to the plaque and contained pictures of Keilah and different objects, which were left shattered.
John Renteria, Keilah’s father, said he removed the jar that was not broken.
The plaque is one of about 11 at Memorial Point, which is jointly maintained by the city of Roswell and the J. Kenneth and Alice Smith Family Foundation. Steve Smith, a member of the Foundation, said he is not aware of any acts of vandalism reported this week. Roswell Police Department Public Information Officer Todd Wildermuth said no damage reports related to the location have been filed since Tuesday.
Heather Murray, whose daughter Alexis was a friend of Keilah Renteria’s and regularly walks past the memorial, said she found the bottles shattered Tuesday at about 8:30 a.m. No other plaques were damaged, she said.
Murray said she immediately called John Renteria to tell him about the condition of the memorial. Renteria, who said he comes to the memorial every weekday after work, said the news caught him off guard.
“I was shocked and just thought that was one of the safest places that I have ever been,” he said. He added that he last visited the plaque at about 4 p.m. Monday, but did not see anyone at the time who he thinks could have been responsible for the vandalism, and does not know if the plaque was a specific target.
Although Memorial Point is generally a safe area, Smith said a few months ago a plaque had been stolen and that once in the past some plaques were spray painted with graffiti.
Though he felt hurt and angry, John Renteria said he has not filed a damage report with the police.
“Bottom line, I just didn’t think it would benefit anybody. It wouldn’t change what they did,” he said.
But John Renteria said he did want the public to know about what happened.
“I would just like the public to be aware (people) are cruel and that area is supposed to be a sacred, peaceful honorable place,” John Renteria said. “It’s just not right.”