Stow man meets 'angel' who restored vandalized cross
A woman seen in video footage restoring a man's vandalized cross comes forward after seeing news story.
STOW — It was while on a shopping trip to stores along Route 59 that Gina Brown first saw the white cross laying on the ground in Chris Caetta’s front yard in early August.
“This made me feel really sad and angry that someone had the audacity to knock over a cross and take the signs out from [Mr. Caetta's] yard,” she said.
Going home later, she saw the cross still on the ground and decided to stop and set it back up.
“In good conscience, I just really couldn’t let that cross just stay down like that,” she said. “I was appalled that somebody would come in and just destroy somebody’s personal property. Regardless of what you believe in, who you’re voting for, your political affiliation or or religious beliefs, you don’t do that.”
What Brown said she did not know is what she thought would be an anonymous act would be caught with the same security camera that recorded the vandalism, that her act would be featured in a Stow Sentry story about political sign thefts and that Caetta would be eager to learn her identity.
“I had no idea it would even be in the paper so I was kind of surprised I even saw that and I [thought], ‘Wow, that’s me, an unidentified woman,'” said Brown. “It was so funny to read about myself.”
Caetta said his security camera caught low-resolution images of three unknown people getting out of a car, pushing the cross over and breaking off American, Christian and pro-police flags attached to it. He said Christian and police flags, along with a Donald Trump sign were then stolen.
He had thought to leave the cross where it was to show people what happened, but when he came home from work one afternoon soon after the incident, he found the cross back up. Security camera footage showed a woman pulling into his driveway and getting out of her car. The woman set the cross back up, straightened a lone Christian flag still attached to it, got back into her car and left.
“Since the day I came home, it was my goal, my quest, and it bothered me,” he said. “How can I find this woman. I must find her so I can tell her 'thank you.'”
On Sept. 7, Caetta got his wish. He was sitting in the lower level of his split-level home when his wife called to him.
“I walked up and she was standing in front of the front door and the bright light of the day was behind her and as soon as I looked at her, I just knew it was her and it was like, ‘Oh my God, an angel has appeared,’” he said. “I think the Lord sent her to my dang door.”
Brown explained why she did what she did and Caetta showed her the video.
“I was really touched,” said Brown, “it meant so much to him and I decided to go over there on Labor Day with my son and introduce myself.”
Brown said she is staying temporarily with her parents in Munroe Falls.
“My husband [Zachary] is deployed in Afghanistan and we’re normally stationed at Fort Drum, New York,” said Brown, adding that Zachary serves in the Army and is in Afghanistan for nine months.
“This is his first deployment,” she said.
Caetta said this fit with why he wanted the display back up in front of his home, though he does take it down at night as a precaution.
“There are so many military men, women and families out fighting for our freedom so I’m not going to give up my First Amendment rights that way, my freedom to speak,” he said. “And as she told me, her husband’s in Afghanistan fighting for our freedom.”
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at email@example.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.