Stolen nutcracker returned to village in Steubenville

Photo by Warren Scott Jerry Barilla, president of Historic Fort Steuben, points to one of two areas where paint was scraped from the Starman nutcracker when it was taken from the Nutcracker Village on Saturday. Barilla said he is thankful the nutcracker was returned by the two people who face charges of theft in Steubenville Municipal Court in connection with its disappearance.

STEUBENVILLE — The Starman nutcracker inspired by the late rock singer David Bowie was returned to the Nutcracker Village at Historic Fort Steuben after it was taken on a short trip out of Steubenville Saturday.

Jerry Barilla, president of Historic Fort Steuben, said the 6-foot-tall figure is back in its former position near the fort’s fountain, with some paint scratched from its crown and one leg. He’s thankful, though, that it wasn’t more severely damaged, and most of all, that it was returned.

The nutcracker was found missing early Saturday by Patrick McLaughlin, a volunteer, and video footage from a nearby surveillance camera showed a woman dragging it to a truck that soon after crossed the Market Street Bridge.

Barilla said he’s thankful the two people who were charged with its theft chose to return it — instead of disposing it somewhere — and turn themselves in.

Municipal Judge John J. Mascio on Monday set preliminary hearings on Dec. 15 for Mycal P. Morin, 21, of 415 S. 11th St., Weirton and Alexis Lynch, 20, of 120 Clover Lane, Colliers.

He noted the two face up to 12 months in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,500 if found guilty of felony theft.

City Manager James Mavromatis said the two appear to be sorry for their actions, but the offense is a serious one in light of the nutcracker’s value, which court records put at $3,000.

Barilla and Mark Nelson, whose family-run business produces the nutcrackers, said the two should face some punishment; however, city officials expressed some compassion because the nutcracker was returned.

“I feel it wasn’t stolen just from me and my family and business but from the entire community because it (the Nutcracker Village) is a community project,” Nelson said.