Historic City News first reported on the arson attack against the 1879 Confederate Veterans Memorial on September 25th when the crime was reported. We requested the incident report from the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office, a copy of which was denied stating that this is an “active investigation”. Deputies and investigators still have not found the person responsible, however, our second request for the incident report was delivered today. This is what information we were able to learn.
Deputy Rachel M Soles responded to the Trout Creek Marina located at 6550 SR-13 North on Friday morning about 8:21 a.m., September 25, 2020 to answer an arson complaint from 44-year-old Jeremy Lee Patterson of Manorville NY, the Vice President of Progressive Construction Company.
Patterson’s business was hired by St Augustine City Manager John Regan, without competitive bidding or compliance with normal purchasing policies, for the general purpose of relocating the cenotaph from the Plaza de la Constitution in St Augustine to a location about 25-miles out-of-town, near the St Johns River in the Switzerland community. The memorial remains at the site.
Patterson told deputies that the monument was set on fire sometime between 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 24th and the time when the damage was discovered, at about 7:32 a.m., on Friday, September 25th.
Patterson reported that he and his work crew cleaned up and left the memorial park around 5:30 p.m., possibly as late as 6:00 p.m. on Thursday. Brian Brown, an employee of Patterson, was said to have checked the gates leading into the park around 9:00 p.m. According to Patterson, Brown reported “no issues” around the monument at that time.
“I observed minor burn marks to the concrete of the memorial that can be seen in the crime scene photographs,” Soles said upon her arrival.
Physical evidence collected at the scene by Soles that was listed in the initial report, included a canister of motor oil, a stick that may have been used to start the fire, a burned plastic bottle, a hammer that appears to have been used and a facemask that was left behind. A photo disc was also submitted into evidence that contained various photos of the crime scene. Patterson was asked if any of the materials could have been used in the relocation of the memorial by himself or his workers. He denied any knowledge concerning the materials or how they came to be at the crime scene.
Soles reported that Corporal Kyle Cubbedge was notified and Sergeant Robinson and Detective Owens responded to the scene. She took no further action at that time and wrote that the scene was left with the Northwest District investigators.