Archive for Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Leawood man convicted in explosion of stolen Jayhawk statue

Prosecutors say a man admits to bombing one of the fiberglass mascots from the Jayhawks on Parade display.

February 10, 2009, 2:08 p.m. Updated February 10, 2009, 2:45 p.m.


"Kansan" by Vernon Kauffman.

"Kansan" by Vernon Kauffman.

A 22-year-old Leawood man blew up a fiberglass Jayhawks On Parade statue that was stolen in August 2007 from Legends Place Apartments, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Michael Vanlerberg admitted to explosions that destroyed a mailbox, damaged three cars and blew up the Jayhawk statue, said Jim Cross, acting U.S. Attorney Marietta Parker’s spokesman. Vanlerberg pleaded guilty to one count of using explosives to destroy government property, Parker’s office said.

Cross said investigators responded Nov. 30, 2007, to the mailbox explosion in the 2400 block of West 24th Street. That’s where neighbors said someone had been blowing things up in the backyard of a neighborhood home.

“Investigators learned that Vanlerberg, who was living in Lawrence and attending the University of Kansas at the time, had been assembling bombs from parts he ordered over the Internet and exploding bombs in the backyard,” Cross said.

Investigators found 54 explosive devices, a camcorder with videotape of the Jayhawk being blown up and other materials for making explosive devices.

The Jayhawk, named Kansan, was created by artist Vernon Kauffman. It was stolen from the apartment complex, 4101 W. 24th Place.

The 100-pound fiberglass statue was one of 30 created by artists for the 2003 Jayhawks On Parade exhibit. Over the years, the Jayhawk collection has been plagued by theft, vandalism and now the bombing.

“It’s certainly disheartening that anybody wants to go to that extreme, let alone the potential of doing physical damage to somebody,” said Bill Muggy, the owner of Jayhawk Bookstore, 1420 Crescent Road, and three of the statues.


Steve Jacob 9 years, 4 months ago

I say this over and over again, never videotape yourself committing a crime. And FYI, does anyone in the county ever go to trial anymore. Not saying it's wrong to plea bargain, but almost every time? Plus this case looks to be a slam dunk.

workinghard 9 years, 4 months ago

Let's see how long it takes for YH to jump on this.

Omegatron 9 years, 4 months ago

He attended KU and blew up a Jayhawk statue! Infidel! Even if it was an abused Jayhawks on Parade, blowing one up is blasphemy. He needs to burn. Throw the book at him. Hard time doing hard labor. Make the scum pay.

yankeelady 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm with thebcman. Living in Columbia would be appropriate. Although anybody who would blow up a Jayhawk would probably fit right in there.

somebodynew 9 years, 4 months ago

srj- just to comment. This case went Federal, not county. It was that big of a deal. And unless you are YH, most people realize when the Feds take your case you are screwed and probably need to plead to get the best deal you can.

jonas_opines 9 years, 4 months ago

Aw Mike, say it ain't so. I like blowing stuff up as much as the next man, but c'mon.

Toto_the_great 9 years, 4 months ago

Was the Jayhawk destroyed, or did minor damage occur to it?

compmd 9 years, 4 months ago

The feds do not take kindly to bombers. Everyone is so bent out of shape that he blew up a jayhawk statue, when the reality is he was blowing all kinds of things up, and based on his patterns and activity would have continued doing so. Just goes to show we have more to worry about from some bratty white kid from Leawood then Achmed the Terrorist here in Kansas.

Laurie Lagomarcino Marlowe 9 years, 4 months ago

Did_I_say_that (Anonymous) says…It is a proven psychological fact that cruelty to fiberglass mascots leads to cruelty to manikins.____Brilliant!

n8ivjhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Please tell me that they'll DESTROY the videotape before it is released to ANY of the media. I would HATE the see the "Classless Cartel from Columbia" get ahold of it. Not to mention the ppl down in Memphis. The thought makes me ill.

justaverage 9 years, 4 months ago

This person is a punk. He'll learn a new meaning for the word "blow" when he is in prison. He did the crime, but he won't be able to do the time.

tigerforlife 9 years, 4 months ago

Can we give him a medal? Or at least is there somewhere we can send money to help him pay his fines?

persevering_gal 9 years, 4 months ago

I lived at the Legends Apartments at this time, and I think we received a new newsletter each month pleading for the Jayhawk statue to be returned and that no charges would be filed if they returned the Jayhawk.

4thgencowgirl 9 years, 4 months ago

That was one of my favorite Jayhawks. I hope he can be replaced. I love the novelty of these babies sitting around different places, as to say Hi and welcome. He has got to be one messed up kid. He belongs in some other country where they like strapping bombs on themselves and blowing themselves up. Sorry for the loss could of been a lot worse.

Tyson Travis 9 years, 4 months ago

Paroling this guy to Columbia would be identical to releasing an Al-Qaida jihadist from Guantanamo and paroling him to Yemen...he would be treated as a conquering hero, probably free tuition for life. If there are any more abused or neglected Jayhawks on Parade out there, I volunteer to give one a good home, if I can override my wife's veto power.

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