Independence police arrest 2 in connection with statue theft - KCTV5

Prosecutors charge 3 in connection with statue theft

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Jeremy W. Ratliff and Kelli L. Summers Jeremy W. Ratliff and Kelli L. Summers
Randy V. Perez Jr. Randy V. Perez Jr.

Prosecutors have now charged three with felonies in connection with the theft last weekend of a 6' tall statue, worth $75,000 outside an Independence museum.

Jeremy W. Ratliff, 36, and 33-year-old Kelli L. Summers each face a charge of theft, a class C felony.

Randy V. Perez, 29, faces a charge of theft, a class B felony.

Wednesday, Independence police confirmed they had two in custody. This comes after tips poured in following the agency releasing photos of persons of interest.

Police tell KCTV5 that the National Trails Museum's Pioneer Woman statue was cut up into four pieces and turned to scrap as some have feared.

According to court records, police sent an email to area recyclers after the statue was reported stolen from the museum in Independence. One recycler responded and gave police images of two men bringing metal to the scrap dealer in a trash can. Some of the metal had a blue hue, and at least one section of metal appeared to be a hand. After the scrapper refused the material, the two men placed the metal in a dark maroon station wagon. Police identified at least one of the men from the video images, and soon identified the vehicle at the home of the defendants.

Police were looking for Perez as a person of interest because Ratliff and Summers identified him as being with them, and helping them load the statue into a vehicle. He was arrested Friday.

Prosecutors requested a cash bond of $75,000 in the theft case.

There was a $1,000 reward offered for information leading to an arrest, and a $5,000 reward offered for the return of the statue.

The statue was commissioned for the museum's opening in 1990. It cost $35,000 at the time, but would cost $75,000 to replace it now.

The Pioneer Woman depicts a woman carrying a child in one arm, and a bucket in the other. The majority of the sculpture is blue with the exception of the faces, hands, hair and feet, which are bronze-colored. The statue was intended to be a tribute to all the pioneer mothers of the past, and their daughters of today.

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