Highway crosses 'stolen' from memorial for mother, son killed in wreck

Deep wounds have been reopened for an Edinburg family still trying to cope with the loss of not one but two loved ones.

Viola Martinez and her teenage son Jonathan died when an 18-wheeler flipped onto their automobile back in November along Highway 281.

A makeshift memorial placed at the spot where they died has helped their family with healing.

That is until it was gone.

"There's nothing," Melissa Martinez, who lost her mother and brother in the accident said. "They're just gone."

The two white crosses disappeared over the weekend from the median near the FM 490 exit along North Highway 281.

Just a few flowers from the wreaths that once adorned each personalized cross are all that's left behind.

"That's disrespect beyond belief that somebody would actually do that," Melissa said.

Melissa believes they were stolen.

She remembers the call her family received from a friend who allegedly witnessed a woman place them into a green 2004 Ford pickup.

"They asked, 'Are you taking down your crosses?' And we said no. And he was like you need to get out here somebody is taking your crosses."

TxDOT does permit makeshift memorials along state highways as long as proper procedures are followed.

However, they can be removed if they are in the way of construction.

The family believes because there is no construction along the median in the area that it only reaffirms their belief the crosses were taken.

"I would never do that to anyone's family," Melissa said. "This means a lot to me and to wake up in the morning and find out that someone took these is wrong. It breaks my heart. It breaks my family's heart."

The crosses hold no real monetary value.

But because they were handmade and personalized by her brother's best friend's father, Melissa calls them priceless.

"I just want the crosses back," she said. "That's all me and my family want for our crosses back."

No questions asked.

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