AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – Nearly two decades after her child’s tragic death, a grieving mother said she was shocked to learn a memorial bench in his honor is missing from an Akron community garden.
“You don’t ever forget you learn to deal but you never forget,” said Rosita Diaz-Wright.
November will mark 18 years since the death of her son. Lorenzo, 11, was found dead hanged on an Akron park fence. His death was ruled a suicide, a conclusion his mother said still doesn’t add up.
“There’s no way that he could have he was too tall, and his feet would have rested and there was just no way,” said Diaz-Wright referencing the tragic day.
The community rallied with Diaz-Wright and raised money for a sky-blue memorial bench in honor of Lorenzo’s favorite color. His memorial bench was installed and chained to the ground in 2005 at then Sammis Park, now a community garden used for growing crops.
The family continued to visit the memorial bench over the years except for during the height of the pandemic. The bench was noticed missing in July. The family moved to Columbiana County after Lorenzo’s death.
“It wasn’t just a bench, it was an honor to my son, you know, and even though it’s going to be 18 years when I come back, it just feels like it’s that day all over again,” said Diaz-Wright.
A spokesperson for the city of Akron said the recreation and parks staff has been in contact with Diaz-Wright stating, “Unfortunately the City does not have the bench and no one from our team has any idea what might have happened to it. We’ve made efforts to attempt to track it down for her without any luck, but we did not remove or move the bench at any point that we are aware of. We have made mention to Rosita that we’d be willing to work with her to find a way to provide a new bench in his honor if she’s interested. “
The founder of Akron Cooperative Farms where the bench was located was onsite with Diaz-Wright Wednesday and said although he did not know who moved the memorial bench or why he wants to help honor her son in a new way.
“It’s simple to say, ‘Oh, well plant another tree,’ no, it’s not the same,” said Diaz-Wright. “‘We’ll get another bench,’ I appreciate it but this bench came from the people that truly loved and cared for my son.”
This unsolved mystery ripped open a painful wound for the mother who wants the memorial bench back that honored the life of her loved little boy.