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Suspects in vandalism of Gerald, Betty Ford gravesites go to police

Two people who allegedly defaced the gravesites of former President Gerald R. Ford and first lady Betty Ford in Michigan have come forward, police said Thursday.

The Grand Rapids Police Department did not identify the suspects who were caught on security footage skateboarding in the area and removing a metal “E” from an inscription on the monument.

“Both subjects seen in the video have come forward and are cooperating with investigators,” police said in a Facebook post. “We’d like to thank the media and citizens for their assistance with this case.”

One of the suspects, 19-year-old Chris Johnson of Indiana, told MLive that he turned in the missing vowel, which museum staff estimated was worth $400, after seeing reports that police were looking for the vandals.

The “E” was removed from the phrase from the word “committed” in the phrase “Lives Committed to God, Country and Love,” according to CBS News.

“I’m sorry it happened and I’m sorry I broke it,” Johnson told the MLive. “It wasn’t malicious. I didn’t know what it was and now I’m in the works of trying to fix things.”

The incident occurred on March 27 outside a museum that is dedicated to Gerald Ford’s presidency. He died in 2006. Betty Ford died in 2011.

Museum staff told WOOD-TV they view the incident as “extreme vandalism.”

“We look upon this site as an important site,”  Joel Westphal, deputy director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library told the station. “This is a presidential gravesite, and we’re not happy.”

The destruction of government property that exceeds $100 is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 or 10 years in prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg


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