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Family Beseeches Thieves To Return Treasured Property
1 Shrine
Prior to the vandalization and theft of the shrine created to memorialize Angelina Garcia and Lauren Murrieta, the site was always filled with fresh flowers, photos, and personal mementos. Photo Courtesy Of The Garcia Family
2 Shrine
Now, the shrine is a shadow of its former display with many personal items missing. The family is bewildered by the theft and destruction and ask that whoever took the personal items to return them to City Hall in Oakdale. Photo By Kim Van Meter

The grieving family of Angelina Garcia, the 15-year-old Oakdale High School student who tragically took her own life along with friend, Lauren Murrieta, 17, in April 2020, awoke last week to horrific news – someone had vandalized the memorial shrine to the girls as well as took items of personal value to the family.

Friends of the Garcia family called to let them know that two people, a man and a woman, were seen putting the remaining items in a box after the site had been vandalized.

A call to the city manager confirmed that the city was not responsible for the items’ removal, which meant a private citizen had been responsible but the family had not been contacted for pick-up.

Karina Zamora, Angelina’s aunt, spoke for the family saying, this recent bewildering turn of events has ripped open the family’s grief all over again.

“If that person has a heart, if they could bring it back,” Zamora said, struggling to get the words out. “Angelina was born and raised in Oakdale. I think this really hit home to a lot of people. That’s why she had so much love at the memorial. I didn’t think anybody would’ve hurt any of her stuff … just the way they cut her cross just really broke us again.”

According to Zamora, the site had a cross with Angelina’s picture and birthdate with lights that would turn on at night.

“Everything is gone. Pictures when she was little, when she did her First Communion, some jewelry of hers … I was shocked. Then, I started getting the calls and texts and it started hitting me harder and harder,” Zamora said. “When I found out it wasn’t the city, I think it hurt even more, just knowing that it was actual citizens that did it.”

Zamora said the family worked hard to keep the site clean and maintained. Every day, as part of her routine, Zamora’s mother would replace the flowers with fresh ones. “My mom is 70 years old, and takes her flowers daily. My mom has definitely been struggling ever since it happened.”

The family has no idea who might be responsible but they are more interested in retrieving the personal items that were taken than prosecuting the guilty party.

“I don’t know if it was someone that doesn’t like us or was somebody that lives there and didn’t like waking up to it every morning … we would’ve been willing to compromise if they’d come to us. We plan to restore it and hopefully, they will respect us and our grief.”

Zamora said whoever was responsible for boxing up and removing the items from the shrine are urged to return them to City Hall in the downtown area and the family will pick them up.

City Hall is at 280 N. Third Ave.; the city has agreed to accept the returned items on behalf of the family.