, Salem, MA

October 3, 2013

Sunflowers go missing from memorial


---- — DANVERS — A former Danvers resident was appalled to learn recently that vandals had ripped out the sunflowers planted in a traffic island as a memorial to his son, who died a year ago.

“It’s a really sad, sad situation,” John Locke said.

Locke’s oldest son, John T. Locke, died of brain cancer last summer at the age of 33. He was a graduate of St. John’s Prep, Stonehill College and the FBI Academy, and in his prime, he worked for the Boston office of the FBI, his father said.

Locke, who now lives in Beverly, had moved to Kenmore Drive in Danvers, near the Prep, in 1977 so that his three kids could attend Danvers schools and later the Prep.

After his oldest son died, Locke adopted a traffic island at Locust and North streets in his memory and hired a landscaper, Scott Hicks, to take care of it. This year, Locke asked Hicks to plant sunflowers.

Recently, however, Locke noticed there were no sunflowers on the traffic island and called the landscaper to ask if he’d planted them.

“He said, ‘I did, and someone stole them,’” Locke said.

“What would possess you to steal sunflowers out of a memorial?” he wondered.

He said if someone wanted sunflowers so badly, he would have purchased them for whoever took them. The plants cost less than $10 each, he said.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.