The head of a cemetery statue has mysteriously reappeared after 20 years when it was vandalised.
The statue was in memory of a teenage girl who travelled to London to study but came home after falling ill, and later died.
The white marble monument was erected in honour of the girl, Jennie Steeves, 15, at Gray’s Island Cemetery in the town of Hillsborough in the US state of North Carolina in the 1930s.
After the statue was decapitated in 1990s when rumours started to spread that the head would follow people as they walked around the cemetery and that the eyes would go red, it has now mysteriously showed up over 20 years later.
Patricia Wallace posted photos of the returned head on social media with the message: “We are so happy to have the head back from our father’s Aunt Laura’s tombstone. George Nelson installed the monument with his daughter Olive watching him. The monument was shipped from Italy.”
Jennie Steeves, born in 1885, was the daughter of Archie and Laura Steeves. She left for London when she was 14 years old to continue her studies, but fell ill and had to return to Hillsborough.
She died in 1900 aged 15 of her illness, which her family believes was tuberculosis.
The girl’s mother Laura Steeves erected the statue in honour of her daughter at the cemetery where dozens of family members are buried.
Over time, the statue remained tucked away in the far corner and inspired urban legends and ghost stories.
Locals claimed the statue’s eyes would follow mourners around the cemetery and even turn bright red.
The monument is also said to have inspired the legend of the Gray’s Island Ghost.
Patricia’s sister Kathleen said: “There were all kinds of stories told about the monument, that it was haunted, that the eyes had rubies in them, but none of that is true. It was just put there for the family plot and especially in memory of Jennie.”
Kathleen said her father used to take her and her sister to the site when they were young, and that is when they first started noticing vandalism.
She said: “We used to go down and see it, and there were fingers that had been shot off at that point, and there was a little bit of damage to the face.
The statue remained headless after it was vandalised over 20 years ago.
The sisters tried to track it down and even offered a reward in a local paper, but it never surfaced and they presumed it had been destroyed.
Patricia Wallace said the monument was very special to Aunt Laura and she is grateful the head has finally been returned, adding: “It means so much to us to know that the statue will be standing again and hopefully safe.”
According to the sisters, the statue, which was never intended to resemble the young Jennie Steeves, will be restored early next year.
However, they admit that they are at a loss as to how the head reappeared next to the statue after such a long disappearance.
Kathleen said: “It was really kind of a miracle… It remains a mystery, somebody maybe had a guilty conscience.”
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Story By: Lee Bullen, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
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