50-lb peace sign stolen from Sandy Hook memorial playground

The 'Peace' sign was stolen from the playground in Mystic dedicated to Sandy Hook shooting victim Grace McDonnell. (WTNH / Tina Detelj)

MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) – A 50-pound peace sign was stolen Tuesday from a Mystic playground built in memory of a young Sandy Hook victim and a man who claims to be the thief apparently called the mother of the victim and told her the school shooting was a hoax.

The Mystic playground on Williams Beach celebrates the life of Grace McDonnell, who loved the beach and whose parents were engaged in Mystic more than 20 years ago. The structure was dedicated April 27 and is one of several playgrounds built to honor the victims in communities affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Bill Lavin’s “Where Angels Play Foundation” has been building the playgrounds. Lavin said McDonnell’s mother found out about the theft when the man who apparently took the sign called her and said he stole it because he believes the shooting at the school was a hoax.

grace mcdonnell playground
The peace sign had greeted visitors to the Sandy Hook memorial playground in Mystic. (Photo: WTNH)


Caryn Bates was at the April dedication ceremony and said she was shocked to hear about the theft.

“It was touching, we want to remember her and all the other kids,” said Bates, adding that “nobody in their right mind” would act as the alleged thief did.

Tom Weissmuller of Mystic says people are at the playground all the time and also called the alleged thief a conflicted individual. “Well, that’s a disturbed person,” he said. “Hopefully, the mom can ignore that because that’s someone who’s really deeply disturbed.”

A replacement sign has been ordered and could reclaim its place at the entrance as early as next week.

News 8’s Tina Detelj and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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