Iconic statue at historic Mississippi cemetery damaged

Published 2:15 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2020

One of the most iconic statues in one of Mississippi’s most historic and beautiful cemeteries has been damaged and police are looking for clues as to who is responsible.

Natchez City Cemetery workers and Natchez Police were assessing damage Tuesday afternoon to the Turning Angel statute that was found lying on the ground next to its pedestal.

One of the angel’s wings was broken and cemetery workers were not sure how the statue was removed from its pedestal.

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The Turning Angel is a landmark of Natchez and has been in its spot in the Natchez cemetery since was placed there by the owner of the Natchez Drug Company to commemorate the lives of five girls who died in the building when it exploded in 1908.

The angel statue was dubbed the Turning Angel because it appears to turn at night as cars drive by it along Cemetery Road.

“Hopefully somebody will be made to feel guilty about what they’ve done,” said Elise Rushing, president of the Natchez City Cemetery Board. “It is terrible. A cemetery to be desecrated because of . . . I can’t think of any good reason why someone would damage a gravesite.”

Rushing said she is not aware of any previous incidents that have damaged the Turning Angel but said other incidents have left minor damage at other sites in the cemetery over the years.

“We have had minor problems from time to time, and mostly it has mischievous,” Rushing said. “I’m not saying this isn’t mischievous.”

Rushing said cemetery worker said the angel was OK this morning before they left for lunch at noon. A social media post made at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday showing the angel lying on the ground began being passed around and the cemetery workers returned to see the angel off the pedestal shortly after, Rushing said.

Cemetery workers are making arrangements to locate a monument restoration company to ensure the statue is properly repaired.

The statue was also featured in the Greg Iles’ bestseller by the same name, the 2005 novel, Turning Angel.