The head of a cemetery statue has mysteriously reappeared 20 years after it was vandalised.
The statue was erected in memory of a teenage girl who travelled to London to study but came home after falling ill, and later died.
The white marble monument was erected in honour of the girl, Jennie Steeves, 15, at Gray's Island Cemetery in the town of Hillsborough in the US state of North Carolina in the 1930s.
After the statue was decapitated in the 1990s rumours started to spread that the head would follow people as they walked around the cemetery and that the eyes would go red.
Now the head has mysteriously showed up more than 20 years later.
Patricia Wallace, who has been working to track down the head with the help of her sister Kathleen, recently posted photos of it sitting next to the statue on social media.
“We are so happy to have the head back from our father’s Aunt Laura’s tombstone. George Nelson installed the monument with his daughter Olive watching him. The monument was shipped from Italy,” she wrote.
Statue in memory of ill teen
Jennie Steeves, born in 1885, was the daughter of Archie and Laura Steeves. She left for London when she was 14 years old to continue her studies, but fell ill and had to return to Hillsborough.
She died from her illness, which her family believes was tuberculosis in 1900 at the age of 15.
The girl’s mother, Laura Steeves, erected the statue in honour of her daughter at the cemetery where dozens of family members are buried.
Over time, the statue remained tucked away in the far corner and inspired urban legends and ghost stories.
Locals claimed the statue’s eyes would follow mourners around the cemetery and even turn bright red.
The monument is also said to have inspired the legend of the Gray's Island Ghost.
“There were all kinds of stories told about the monument, that it was haunted, that the eyes had rubies in them, but none of that is true. It was just put there for the family plot and especially in memory of Jennie," Kathleen said.
Kathleen said her father used to take her and her sister to the site when they were young, and that is when they first started noticing vandalism.
“We used to go down and see it, and there were fingers that had been shot off at that point, and there was a little bit of damage to the face," she said.
Sisters offered reward for head's return
The statue remained headless after it was vandalised over 20 years ago.
The sisters tried to track it down and even offered a reward in a local paper, but it never surfaced and they presumed it had been destroyed.
Patricia Wallace said the monument was very special to her Aunt Laura and she is grateful the head has finally been returned.
“It means so much to us to know that the statue will be standing again and hopefully safe," she said.
According to the sisters, the statue, which was never intended to resemble the young Jennie Steeves, will be restored early next year.
However, they admit that they are at a loss as to how the head reappeared next to the statue after such a long disappearance.
“It was really kind of a miracle... It remains a mystery, somebody maybe had a guilty conscience,” Kathleen said.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.