Presidential busts vandalized in Hermosa

Jason Ferguson

The Custer County Sheriff’s office is receiving tips and following up on leads regarding vandalism that occurred last Tuesday, July 6, at Southern Hills RV Park and Campground in Hermosa.
It was 11:30 a.m. that morning when the owner of the campground, Jerry Styles, contacted Custer County Dispatch to report two of the large presidential busts on the property had been vandalized, with “Murderer” being spray painted across George H.W. Bush’s bust, while “Drug Dealer” was spray painted across Ronald Reagan’s bust.
Seargent Derrick Reifenrath of the Custer County Sheriff’s Office said the vandalism occured sometime in the late night hours of June 5 or early morning hours of June 6, but that there is no camera footage of the culprits.
“We are following up on some leads,” he said. “We are also processing some evidence found at the scene.”
The RV park is located just north of Roy’s Drive Inn in Hermosa, and is close to Hwy. 79, meaning the culprits could have parked a car on the side of Hwy. 79 and spray painted the busts in only a matter of minutes.
Reifenrath said the owners of the busts are not known, as they are not officially owned by Styles, who purchased the RV park 15 years ago.
The former owner of the park apparently brokered a deal to have busts of all of the presidents placed on the land, but the deal fell through, the broker disappeared and nobody ever came to claim or collect the three busts—John F. Kennedy, Jr. is the third bust—that were already on the land. It may be technically that the sculptor, who was said to last live in Texas, still owns the busts. Reifenrath said the sheriff’s office is working to determine ownership of the heads.
If arrested, those who spray painted the busts would be charged with vandalism and potentially more charges, depending on the cost to clean the busts.
Late last week a Texas family traveling through the Hills stopped at the RV park to volunteer to wash the paint off the busts, KOTA reported.
The Thompson family has been traveling in an RV across the country to gather stories of faith, family, and freedom. Then they decided to detour their planned trip to Mount Rushmore upon seeing vandalism, KOTA reported.
Anyone with information on the vandalism is encouraged to contact the Custer County Sheriff’s Office at 673-8176.

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