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Oct 21, 2009 10:35 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Parents are upset over theft of late son's memorial

Oct 21, 2009 10:35 AM

For the past two months, the corner of Argonne Road East and Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays has served as a place where community members could place mementos, write poems and plant flowers in memory of 15-year-old Joseph Marino of Hampton Bays.

In August, Joseph was struck by 34-year-old Caroline Goss of Mattituck, who, according to Southampton Town Police, was driving drunk with her 6-year-old son in the car. Joseph, who was standing with his bicycle near the intersection, was transported to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead two days later.

One morning in late September as Joseph’s mother, Dorothy Marino, drove past the intersection where the makeshift shrine had been located, she realized that all of the items that friends and family members had placed there since Joseph’s death had been removed. To date, she has received no word as to what happened to them.

“We don’t know what happened,” Ms. Marino said of the memorial for her son. “It was there one day and gone the next. It is just heartbreaking.”

The items were last seen on the evening of September 28.

In a letter to The Press written earlier this month, Ms. Marino noted that she would stop by the memorial every Thursday to say a quick prayer and to kiss a photograph of her son. Joseph would have been a junior at Hampton Bays High School this year.

Among the items stolen were photos, candles and a large Ty Beanie Baby orangutan named “Schweetheart,” which Ms. Marino said was given to Joseph when he was just a little boy. She noted that she and other relatives frequently visited the site, which is located less than a mile away form her Old Riverhead Road home, to remove dead plants and tidy up.

Southampton Town Police Lieutenant Robert Pearce said that a formal report of the theft was never filed. He also noted that it would be difficult to press charges if the thief or thieves ever came forward as the stolen items were left on public property.

He added that police officers did not remove the memorial.

“We have no policy as to removing memorials from the side of the road,” Lt. Pearce said, adding that it is usually a matter that is handled by the Southampton Town Highway Department.

William Masterson, the outgoing highway department superintendent, said that his workers would remove items from the sides of roads only if they posed a hazard to drivers. He said this particular memorial had prompted no complaints and was not obstructing anyone’s view.

“We did not touch, nor did we remove the memorial to that young man,” Mr. Masterson said.

Geraldine Mulvey, who lives on Argonne Road East and across the street from where the memorial had been located, said when she saw that the items had been removed, she assumed that they had been reclaimed by the Marino family.

“I didn’t see anything,” Ms. Mulvey said. “One morning I looked and I noticed it wasn’t there.”

Ms. Mulvey said she realized that someone had stolen the items after Ms. Marino knocked on her door to ask if she had heard anything.

Ms. Marino said that no one living near the makeshift memorial has given her any leads as to what could have happened to the items. She speculated that the person who took them must have had been an adult with a car rather than a child because of the number of items that were taken.

In the meantime, Ms. Marino said the theft has reopened wounds that were just beginning to heal. She said she wishes that she still had a place to pray and display items that had been left in memory of her son.

Ms. Marino also emphasized that she does not want to punish whoever took the items. Rather, she is hoping that whoever took them will return the items to her family—with no questions asked.

“A lot of those things meant a lot to a lot of people,” Ms. Marino said. “It’s just not right.”

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That's just heartbreaking. You have to be a terrible person to remove a memorial for someone. I really hope these people do the right thing and return the items. You should be ashamed of yourselves, and your parents as well. Deepest sympathies to Dorothy and her family. RIP Joey
By LilOnes21 (23), hampton bays on Oct 22, 09 1:55 PM
Although this is an extremely sad, emotional and tradegy...I can understand at this time for the memorial...no one should be removing items as stated in the column.
I do hope the through prayer and help of good friends and neighbors that the family will find peace in the future...I realize this memorial offers some peace at this time, but in the future the resting place of the child is with God-not at the corner where he died...therefore, at a later date the items should be removed.
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Oct 27, 09 9:07 AM
Citizen,the child does not rest at the corner where he died, his family and friends are well aware of that. Everyone grieves differently. I wonder if you would be so preachy and without compassion if it were your child struck down like that. A memorial serves many purposes...one is to allow loved ones to grieve, the other is as a reminder that something happened that we should not forget.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 28, 09 10:35 AM
oh my....yet another reason my faith in humanity is shaken to the core......is nothing sacred anymore?
By MaryMac (43), Riverhead on Oct 30, 09 9:35 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By bbb, Hamptons on May 28, 10 12:09 PM
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