Thief steals part of a grieving mother’s heart

That man had followed her for 21 years, from New Jersey to New Mexico.

He was heavy, gangly, made of some sort of wood she could never identify. If she had to estimate, he was about 36, maybe 40 inches tall sitting down, cross-legged, a yoga pose perhaps, his shoulders stooped, a wry smile on his bespectacled face.

He had big ears. Whatever hair had been affixed to his smooth, round head was long gone.

Now, he was gone.

The statue of a sitting man was taken around Aug. 12 from the front steps of a home in the Wells Park neighborhood. It has significant emotional meaning because it is a reminder of the homeowner’s son, who died in 2000. (Courtesy of Debra DeFrancesco)

Debra DeFrancesco speculates that the sitting man sculpture, which had sat on the front doorstep of her tidy home in the Wells Park neighborhood since 2016, was taken some time on the night of Aug. 12. But she hadn’t known it until that next morning – Friday the 13th, as it turns out.

“My husband went outside that morning and said, ‘Your man’s gone,’ ” she said.

Neighbors on NextDoor had recently started complaining about things going missing from front yards, she had learned. Flower pots. Plants. Packages. Some speculated that thieves were scavenging for things to sell at flea markets or pop-up roadside sales.

Still, she thought her sitting man was safe, given his weight and cumbersome size and, well, he was like a fixture. Nobody had ever bothered him before.

“I never thought thieves would take him, he was so unwieldy,” DeFrancesco said. “Boy, was I wrong.”

And, boy, did those thieves steal more than a statue.

He was a memento of DeFrancesco’s boy. Her son.

Vito Posich was young, but had an old soul, she said. He was worldly wise and thoughtful. He toured with a band out of Washington, D.C., as the drummer.

“He was a good kid,” she said.

He had a drug problem and had just gotten out of rehab in 2000 when he thought maybe just one more time wouldn’t kill him.

But it did.

He was 24.

Her three sisters found the sitting man statue and thought it looked like Vito, who was tall and lanky, and gave it to DeFrancesco as a gift. Her sitting man sat near a pond at her home in New Jersey for nearly 16 years until she moved to Albuquerque, bringing him with her.

Now he is gone, just like her son.

DeFrancesco said she has looked about as best she could to see if she can spot it. She contacted a nearby pawn shop and folks from the big flea market in Albuquerque. Maybe he will show up there.

Or maybe whoever took the sitting man will stand up and return him now that he or she knows who that man is and that what they really stole was a piece of DeFrancesco’s heart.

UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Reach Joline at 730-2793, jkrueger@abqjournal.com, Facebook or @jolinegkg on Twitter.

 

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