Dead teen's family upset over memorials - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Dead teen's family upset over memorials

October 13, 2005

Lee County-- Nearly eight months ago, 17-year-old Wesley Beaver was shot and killed in front on Weslo Estates Mobile Home Park by then- Lee County Deputy Donnie Spillers.

The Beaver family has filed a ten million dollar wrongful death lawsuit, but are now facing another issue.

The roadside memorial dedicated to the teen has been removed, and the family is upset that they weren't told before it was taken down.

Weslo Estates property manager Susan Brown says she feels like she's caught in the middle, between her boss and a grieving family. "I was doing as I was told. I put a tree that would be a permanent memorial," she said.

According to the Lee County tax assessors office, Art Johns owns the land where the mobile home park is located. Brown says the owner was worried a cross and dozens of flowers placed at the site where 17-year old Wesley Beaver was killed could scare away potential renters, and that he ordered her to have them removed.

"I'm sure that she's doing what she's told to do. I don't hold her responsible, but it looks like someone could have contacted some of the family and just told us what was going on and discussed it with us," says Beaver's grandmother, Sharon Beaver.

Brown says she's only been on the job for three months and did not know how to contact the family before the memorial was removed. She says she even took it upon herself to plant a tree in it place and allow the Beavers to place a plaque on the site.

Beaver's family and friends argue the memorial was not on private property and should have been left alone. Instead they claim it was collected and treated like trash. "There's crosses erected all over the country along side the road. I don't know that anybody moves them. They don't bother me. I think it's very disrespectful for the lost one and the family," says Beaver.

Now family members say they plan to ask the Department of Transportation to settle the matter by determining where the right-of-way ends and where the private property line begins. And if their memorial isn't on private property, they intended to put the cross back where it was.

According to the Department of Transportation, memorials are not supposed to be erected in DOT right-of-way at all. They also say it's up to property owners to decide what can be placed on their land.

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