Family looking for answers after memorial bench stolen from Norwalk park

NORWALK, Ohio - It was a precious memorial where a family often gathered to reflect and remember. Now, they are hoping someone can help find a memorial bench honoring a teenaged loved one, that was stolen from a park.

"We just wanted a place where you could look out where he liked to fish...beautiful scenery," said the young man’s father, Scott Brutcher.

The Norwalk Reservoir was Jeffrey Warnek's favorite place to go fishing.

"He always had this big smile on his face. One thing I miss dearly is his big squeeze hugs, I mean, he'd just give you these bear hugs," said his aunt, Tina Wiedle.

October 9th, 2013, at just 18 years old, Jeffrey died while docking his boat in the Huron River. His family says he had a seizure, fell in and drowned. To honor his memory, they had a concrete bench built and planted a tree at the reservoir where he spent a lot of his time and where his father now walks his dog.

"We were out here Thursday I believe it was, I was here and we brought him back out Sunday and it was gone," said Brutcher.

"How heartless can someone, everyone knows that that's a memorial spot. The tree is out there and the bench is out there," said Wiedle.

Jeffrey's family contacted Norwalk police and even checked with the parks and recreation department to make sure it wasn't removed for maintenance.

They can't believe someone would steal it.

"We don't want anyone to get in trouble. If you want to take it back in the middle of the night and put it back where you got it, that's fine. We're not looking to get anyone in trouble, we just want the bench," said his aunt.

"It's despicable," said the teen’s father.

Jeffrey's family says he loved the outdoors and they found some solace in honoring him.

"He was fun, he loved the outdoors, loved fishing and loved his boat and just loved everybody," Brutcher said.

"We got to see his tree and watch it grow, it's just somewhere different to go instead of a gravesite," said Wiedle.

Jeffrey’s family had already been raising money to replace the concrete bench with a sturdier granite one. Norwalk police are investigating.

There is a Gofundme account that has been set up to help the family replace the bench.