Pickaway News Journal

Thu, Apr 27, 2017

Police investigating donations for soldier's damaged headstone

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Members of the 1st Iron Horse Buckeye Battalion cover the vandalized grave stone of Gerald R. Jenkins in Forest Cemetery in May. (Photo by Trish Bennett)

CIRCLEVILLE - Circleville Police are trying to determine what happened to money intended to help repair the damaged headstone of a local soldier killed in action in Afghanistan.

Anyone who may have donated money for the headstone of Army Spc. Gerald R. "Bub" Jenkins is urged to contact the Circleville Police Department with the amount and details of that transaction, according to Sgt. Shawn Baer, acting chief.

Jenkins' headstone at Forest Cemetery, which is etched with an image of the 19-year-old in his Army dress uniform, was vandalized in April with chips and burn marks throughout the image.

In May, members of the 1st Iron Horse Buckeye Battalion of the USA Brotherhood of Tankers (USABOT) draped the stone in a black shroud as a way of honoring Jenkins while concealing the damage they said disrespected his sacrifice. The shroud would then be removed when the stone was brought back to its former glory.

Though no charges have yet been filed in the vandalism incident, police now are faced with a new investigation after Baer said the department began receiving phone calls questioning why the monument had not yet been repaired.

"We were getting calls from people all over, some who served in [Gerald's] unit, wondering what happened to that money and why the stone was still covered," Baer said.

Roger Jenkins, Gerald's father, had been publicly soliciting donations to replace the headstone, which he said at the ceremony in May would cost about $15,000. He said $9,000 was required up front to begin the process of making a new stone, with the balance due upon delivery.

In response to the complaints, Baer said Roger Jenkins was called to the Circleville Police Department and questioned about the money by Detective Phil Roar. Shortly after that interview, Roger Jenkins reportedly disappeared.

"We're not sure where he is, but we aren't looking for him at this time," Baer said. "It's still in the investigation mode, and we just want anyone who donated to contact Detective Roar."

Roar can be reached at 740-474-8888.

Baer said no charges have yet been filed, and the goal at the moment is to determine how much money has been donated to the cause. At this time, he said investigators believe donations totaled more than $7,000, but that figure could be higher.

Roger Jenkins was collecting donations through an account in his name at Huntington Bank in Circleville, as well as to a post office box in Tarlton.

Gerald "Bub" Jenkins was a combat engineer assigned to the 1st Brigade Special Troop Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He was killed Oct. 20, 2010, by an improvised explosive device while on foot patrol in the Maquan, Zhari district of Afghanistan.

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