Niagara Gazette

Local News

August 24, 2006

Jennifer Bolender memorial vandalized


It’s not the first time that vandals have struck the memorial for Jennifer Bolender, but this time may have been the worst.

Sometime between April and last week, someone appears to have taken a hammer or similar tool and used it to try to pry off or smash a marble memorial plaque that marks the spot where Jennifer died. Her mother, Tina Balsano, couldn’t believe what she saw.

“It’s frustrating,” Balsano said, standing next to the damaged memorial. “I was aggravated and just shocked. There’s some sick individuals out there.”

The plaque is attached to the wall of a LaSalle Expressway overpass. The walkway, where prosecutors said Bolender was “slaughtered” by three other teenagers in 2002, has been named the Jennifer Bolender Memorial Overpass by the state Department of Transportation.

“It helps us to remember her,” Balsano said wistfully.

In addition to the plaque, flower arrangements, stuffed toys and notes hang on a fence that encloses the overpass. The freshness of the flowers on Thursday afternoon was a testament that many still come to the memorial.

“It’s nice that her friends still come here and do this,” Balsano said. “It makes you feel good, knowing that people liked her and remember her.”

Balsano, who has moved from the Falls since her daughter’s death, said she went to see the memorial on a visit to the Falls in April.

“Everything was fine then,” she said.

Back in the Falls for another visit, earlier in August, she decided to again come to the memorial. Jennifer, 16 at the time of her death, would have turned 20 years old on Aug. 10.

“I didn’t come up then,” Balsano said. “I didn’t come up on her birthday because I came up to talk to her and remember the good times. I don’t like to remember the bad things, it reminds you of the sick individuals who did this.”

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