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Stolen Playground Signs Returned To Families Of Newtown Massacre Victims

Grace McDonnell Playground/(http://www.thesandygroundproject.org/)

Grace McDonnell Playground/(http://www.thesandygroundproject.org/)

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MYSTIC, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two police officers from Herndon, Virginia drove to Connecticut Wednesday, to return signs stolen from playgrounds built to honor two victims of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown.

Herndon police Lt. Jim Moore and Detective Sgt. David Knowles helped find the signs and arrest Andrew Truelove, 28, who has been charged with stealing them.

Police said the blue and purple vinyl signs, one depicting a peace sign, were stolen from playgrounds in Mystic, Connecticut, and Mantoloking, New Jersey. They were dedicated to Grace McDonnell and Chase Kowalski, two of the 20 first-graders killed in the Dec. 14, 2012 massacre.

Police said Truelove admitted stealing the signs because he does not believe the December 2012 shooting happened.

Andrew Truelove

Andrew Truelove is charged with stealing two signs dedicated to Newtown massacre victims in Connecticut and New Jersey. (Credit: Herndon, Virginia Police)

“It’s hard to explain the `why’ because from our perspective it doesn’t appear rational,” Herndon Police Chief Maggie DeBoard said last week.

In Mystic last month, someone took the 50-pound vinyl peace sign dedicated to Grace McDonnell from the playground where it was mounted.

Police confirmed that a man claiming to be the person who took the sign called the McDonnell family in Newtown and told them what he did. He went on to claim the shooting was all a hoax.

Grace personally designed the peace sign that disappeared.

DeBoard said Truelove has a history of criminal behavior involving kids and that he is banned from school property in Fairfax County. Court records show a variety of charges against him in recent years, including trespassing, disorderly conduct and destruction of property.

Following the thefts, well-wishers in Connecticut responded to the theft by putting up dozens of handmade signs, many with depictions of hearts and peace signs.

Police in Stonington, Connecticut told The Day of New London the playground signs have already been replaced and the originals will be given to the McDonnell and Kowalski families.

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