First defendant sentenced in pioneer woman statue theft from Independence museum

03/27/2014 10:03 PM

03/27/2014 10:03 PM

An Independence man was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday for his role in stealing a bronze pioneer woman statue that belonged to the National Frontier Trails Museum.

The life-size statue, which stood outside the Independence museum for more than 20 years, vanished June 15.

Randy V. Perez Jr., 30, the defendant sentenced Thursday, had been charged with felony property theft. Two other defendants, Jeremy W. Ratliff, 36, and Kelli L. Summers, 34, both of Independence, also face theft charges. Their cases remain pending.

A Kansas City scrapyard, responding to an Independence police email alert, contacted authorities after two men offered to sale them a bin of battered bronze.

Yard operators had declined to purchase the metal after noticing the blue cast some of it displayed, as well as a section that resembled human fingers. They later provided investigators a video of the encounter.

Perez previously admitted being at the scrapyard but had denied being involved in the theft.

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