Archive for Sunday, March 1, 2015

Stolen goods from Joyland park found with Louie the Clown

March 1, 2015

— Several items stolen from the closed Joyland amusement park in Wichita have been found at a home where police earlier recovered Louie the Clown, a statue that greeted patrons of the park before going missing for more than a decade.

Wichita police returned to the home where they found the clown statue on Feb. 17 and recovered other items, such as the Vampiress, ghosts and tombstones from the Whacky Shack, and Porky the Paper Eater's face, according to Roger Nelson, son of the longtime owners of the park.

A police report lists $26,100 in property taken from the amusement park between 2006 and 2008. Wichita police say some of the items have been recovered but others are still missing, The Wichita Eagle reported.

The stolen goods were found at the home Damian Mayes, 39, a convicted sex offender who once worked at the park and helped restore the clown in 1994.

Wichita police Detective Matt Lang said Mayes, who is currently in prison, might face felony theft charges in the theft of Louie, which is valued at $10,000. The Sedgwick County prosecutor is reviewing the case.

Questioned have been raised about whether the clown statue is a reproduction, not the real Louie.

"What I was told was that there was not just one but several Louie the Clowns," said Michael Coup, a friend of Mayes and president of Wichita Theater Organ Inc. "That clown, as it sits now, never sat on the bench at Joyland's organ."

But Nelson is sure the recovered clown is the real Louie because it had certain markers identifying it as authentic.

"Yeah, good luck with that one. I went down and identified him," Nelson said. "He (Mayes) may have put some newer pieces on Louie, but you can tell it is old."

Mayes, 39, is serving a sentence at the Norton Correctional Facility for a 2010 conviction of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and of aggravated criminal sodomy.

Mayes also had a huge Wurlitzer organ where Louie sat on a bench for decades blasting music across the amusement park, Nelson said. Mayes was buying it from Nelson's mother for $39,000, but didn't make the final $9,000 payment, he said.

Nelson and Greg Kite, president of the Historic Preservation Alliance, say they have been inundated with calls and e-mails about other items taken from Joyland. They are hoping the items will be returned before police get involved.

"The Nelsons and the Preservation Alliance are more interested in having Wichita's heritage returned than in putting people in jail," Kite said. "Return them and your name will not be asked for — no questions asked."

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