Luis Adrian Torres was laid to rest Tuesday, but someone really does not want the makeshift memorial to the 19-year-old killed in a June 16 car crash on Costa Mesa's Susan Street.
First, it was an unidentified woman who demanded the memorial's removal. After an outcry from Torres' family, Susan Street residents and the homeowners association, the memorial returned–only to have flowers, a Bible and mementos stolen some time Sunday.
The original memorial went up in the hours after Torres was identified as the victim in the fatal early morning accident. A woman who claimed to be from the homeowners association told Monica Soto to take down the memorial on Tuesday, June 18, explaining it was on a median that is private property.
The stranger threatened to call police, and sure enough, an officer from the Costa Mesa force arrived to politely ask Monica Soto, other relatives of the dead teen and his friends to remove the items from the base of the tree on Susan Street near Sunflower Avenue.
But other Susan Street residents interviewed by television news reporters said they had no problems with the memorial. The homeowners association board and the neighborhood's Irvine-based management company, Keystone Pacific Property Management, said neither had directed anyone to have the display removed.
The Soto family received permission Saturday to put the memorial back up, and it once again became a gathering place for the teen's friends and loved ones.
Then came the thefts a day later.
“I lost my son,” a crying Monica Soto told KNBC/Channel 4. “Those are his things. Just return them, no questions asked.”