Keepsakes stolen from Atwater memorial garden honoring baby girl who died from heart condition

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Thieves targeted a memorial garden honoring a baby girl who died in the North Valley. Now, her mother is making a plea to have the items returned. (KFSN)

Thieves targeted a memorial garden honoring a baby girl who died in the North Valley. Now, her mother is making a plea to have the items returned. The items were stolen from a home in Atwater this weekend.

Mena Thomas says that memorial is her one special place to feel close to her daughter, who died from a heart condition just days after she was born. Now, Thomas is hoping the thieves will have a change of heart once they realize what they took.

Butterflies fill this garden grown with love in honor of Vanessa Thomas. The baby girl was born on Feb. 10 with a condition known as HLHS, meaning she only had half a heart.

"We did try to have surgery to have it corrected, and she did well through the surgery, but that night her heart did stop beating," said Thomas.

Vanessa was just nine days old, but she touched her parents' hearts for a lifetime.

"You know everybody says unconditional love, and you don't really know until you have a daughter," said Thomas. "I've never been so crazy about someone in my life. I've never loved someone so much in my life."

Thomas has tried to cope with her grief by tending to this garden and filling it with beautiful keepsakes as a tribute to her only child. She was shocked to find some of the solar butterfly lights and stepping stones stolen Sunday morning.

"It's nothing they would be able to sell for more than a couple of dollars," said Thomas. "It should mean absolutely nothing to them."

But the mementos mean the world to Thomas and her husband. They appreciate offers they've received to replace the items, but say it's just not the same as what they've lost.

"It's just her stuff; those are Vanessa's things," said Thomas.

The Thomases have placed some new items in the garden already because they couldn't bear to see the empty spots. But they're hoping whoever took the lights and stepping stones will return them to their yard, no questions asked.
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crimetrackercrimetheftbaby deathchild deathmemorialmerced countyAtwater
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