WAUSAU - One mother received justice after a woman allegedly stole a memorial off of her late son's grave Sunday evening.
Wanda Elaine Gadea, 54, of Wausau, was arrested and charged for third-degree felony theft after stealing from a gravesite of a veteran and son at Wausau Memorial Gardens. The blue decorative gazing ball was placed on Logan Norwood grave by his mother Janine Newman, 45, of Chipley, on April 25 - his would-be 23rd birthday.
"I bought it for my son, it was his for his 23rd birthday," Newman said Tuesday afternoon. "There's only so much you can buy your child that's dead."
Newman said she noticed the ball missing on Sunday evening during her routine visit to her son's grave.
Upon learning the theft had taken place, the community and Town of Wausau employees provided Newman with as much information as possible.
Gadea's own neighbor and neighbor to Town of Wausau head of maintenance Jimbo Oglesby, Lawrence Hathaway happened to spot the "disco ball" Sunday night.
After Oglesby made him aware of the case of the missing ball, Hathaway told his wife to contact Newman.
"When you go stealing from the cemetery, that's just wrong," he said. "I'm just glad I can help the lady - that's the big thing."
According to a Washington County Sheriff's Office news release, Gadea told a WCSO deputy that she had taken the glass ball from the grave; however, she had planned on returning it, but was delayed due to being arrested on an unrelated warrant.
According to Washington County Clerk of Courts, Gadea has a history of theft, including serving time in prison for a 1999 felony charge of dealing in stolen property.
"We've had two benches stolen out of the graveyard and stuff," Oglesby said. "I'm in the graveyard a lot. I knew right where (the ball) was" at the cemetery.
When visiting Gadea's house Monday to borrow back a lawn tool, Oglesby said he spotted the ball.
"It sparkled," he said, noting he then called his co-worker Margaret Riley who reported it to law enforcement.
"I could see the pain in the lady's eyes," Oglesby said, referring to Newman who had contacted Town of Wausau about the missing item. "For someone to walk up to a grave and take something ... there's something wrong about that."
With their help, Newman was able to lay eyes on the ball to verify if the ball in Gadea's yard was indeed the one she'd gifted to her son.
"I said 'oh my God, that's it,'" she said. "It's not a typical globe you see. I just knew it was mine."
Although there isn't a special engraving on the piece, its "unusual" design represents something special between Newman and her son.
"My son liked unusual things, so when I seen it I knew that it was something I needed to get him," Newman said. "It glistens; it just sparkles."
Norwood, born in Marianna, died at 20 years old from apparent suicide on May 7, 2015 at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. He was a Chipley High School graduate and an Aircraft Electrical and Environmental Specialist for the U.S. Air Force.
In the late afternoon Tuesday, Newman replaced her memorial at her son's gravesite.
"It feels great," she said. "I'm so thankful to the community for helping. It's not the monetary value of it, it's the sentimental value."
A friend of Newman's offered a $50 reward to the person that recovered the ball. Hathaway and Oglesby weren't personally interested.
"The best thing that made me proud, I said, to tell the woman who would give the reward, go buy some pretty flowers and put it on the grave," Hathaway said.
"That money could go to the softball team or something like that. I don't take money for stuff like this - never have, I wasn't raised that way," said Jimbo Oglesby. "We just try to take care of each other."
Gadea was arrested and booked at the Washington County Jail on the charge of removing a tomb or monument, which is a third-degree felony.
"The care and concern Washington County citizens have for each other is overwhelming," Sheriff Kevin Crews stated in the news release.