PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Two families are brokenhearted after they discovered a memorial placed in honor of two murder victims was damaged.
The memorial at Cabana Colony Park has been a place to reflect for family and friends of David Lee and Michael Tiedt.
Carol Michael, mother of David Lee, and Eileen LaCasse, mother of Michael Tiedt, call themselves "soul sisters." They met after their sons were murdered in 1996. They have hugged and cried together.
Now, they share confusion over how to proceed, having discovered the memorial in honor of their sons' lives has been damaged for a second time. Michael's photo has been removed from the granite stone carved with his name.
Michael was a few days shy of his twentieth birthday when the boys were murdered.
"Instead of having a birthday party, we were having a funeral," LaCasse said.
The friends were shot and killed and their bodies were discovered in a wooded area near where the permanent memorial stands.
Michael's ashes were spread over the ocean. The memorial is the only physical space that bears his name.
"It's hard enough getting through the holidays, and then, to see that, made it very difficult," LaCasse said.
The mothers each say they remember their sons' smiles.
Michael's cousin, Shannon Broring, says Michael was her best friend. She says she has forgiven her best friend's murderer, but misses Michael every day.
"Michael was like, my other half. I mean, we were cousins but we were raised together," Broring said.
The last time the memorial was damaged, the photos were scraped and broken. A generous member of the community stepped in to donate the repairs.
This time, the families are hopeful the missing photo will be returned. Otherwise, they will have to pay hundreds of dollars to repair the memorial.
"That's our rock, that's our memory. Why would you take that away?" Carol Michael said.
"My biggest fear is that he will be forgotten, so I need that picture there," LaCasse said.