A Twin Cities man who commemorated his marriage in the sandstone of a federal monument in Montana will pay $3,400 to repair the damage.
Cole B. Randall, 24, of Plymouth, “accepted responsibility” last week for defacing Pompeys Pillar National Monument by carving his name and his new bride’s into the same rock where explorer Capt. William Clark had etched his name more than 200 years ago.
In addition to the restitution, he will pay fines totaling $1,000 for the Oct. 10 vandalism, according to an announcement Monday from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Spokeswoman Melodie Lloyd said Randall received two misdemeanor tickets, one for damaging government property and the other for creating a hazard or nuisance.
Restoration work is scheduled to begin in May. However, “the carving by Mr. Randall was so deep and severe that we are limited in what can be done,” monument manager Jeff Kitchens said.
He said Randall’s vandalism came within a couple of feet but was never actually a true threat to Clark’s signature, which is protected by a clear case.
However, Kitchens added, Randalls’ scrawling did fall in an area of other historical signings, including those from the ranks of General George Armstrong Custer’s soldiers.
“At least a couple are at least 100 years old,” said Kitchens, who added that erosion over the generations of time has made it difficult to see the only remaining physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s route across the West. “But even if he couldn’t see them, they are permanently damaged. It just makes me sick, if you think of it.”
Randall told investigators that a cancer scare for his new wife led him to carve their names into the sandstone column and a videotape revealed he had carved their first names with a plus sign, a heart and the date. The act outraged locals and made him the object of hate mail.
In a statement e-mailed last fall to the Star Tribune, Randall called the act “definitely stupid and misguided.”
He wrote that it all began when his honeymoon with Swedish bandmate Shpresa Lleshaj was cut short in October when she discovered “a suspicious lump on her breast.
“I was scared … terrified actually, worst-case scenarios raced through my mind,” Randall wrote. “When love and fear of loss team up: we sometimes lose our better judgment … If something were to happen to my wife, I could come back to this place years from now and see her and my names together.”
Randall didn’t respond to a Monday e-mail asking about the resolution of the case.