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Belmont Police Arrest 3 Teens For Decapitating Rare World War II Statue

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Photo of the decapitated of "The Spirit of the Fighting Yank." (credit: Belmont Police Department)

Photo of the decapitated of “The Spirit of the Fighting Yank.” (credit: Belmont Police Department)

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BELMONT, N.C. (CBS Charlotte) — Belmont police were ready to storm the beaches of Normandy to find the people behind the decapitation of a very rare World War II statue.

On Thursday, police arrested three teens in connection to the missing head from “The Spirit of the Fighting Yank.” Justin Russell, 19, Henry Diegert, 18, and Steven Morgan, 18, were charged with felony larceny for the July 24, 2011 at the Belmont Middle School. All three are being held in the Gaston County Jail under a $1,000 bond.

In a statement released to CBS Charlotte, police say that the three teens confessed to cutting the head off the statue and tossing it into Dutchman Creek in Mount Holly. Scuba divers from the Gastonia Police Department were able to recover several pieces of the head.

“We are glad we were able to solve this case,” Belmont Police Chief Charlie Franklin said in the statement. “For anyone to show this level of disrespect to veterans is unacceptable.”

Franklin also said that efforts are underway by Gaston County Schools to repair or replace the statue.

“The Spirit of the Fighting Yank” – erected in 1946 – is one of only five of its kind in the world. The others are based in Chicago, Bloomington, Ind., Port Huron, Mich., and Oil City, Pa.

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