On the 6 pm KUSI news this evening, Michael Turko – the channel’s flamboyant consumer crusader of “Turko Files” – was credited by police for finding the missing and presumed stolen memorial benches taken from the Ocean Beach bluff.
It was the very top story at the news channel, and Michael Turko took center stage as he explained how he tracked down the benches for the Story and Cappelluchi families. A police lieutenant credited Turko for helping them with the crucial leads in the case. Turko in turn credited his viewers and fans and said they’ve “done it again” in calling him and helping him break the case. Turko said that after his show on Monday, (July 18) “tips flooded in”.
With the tips, with the photo taken of one of the benches on a flatbed truck by neighbor Mike Diamond, with some internet research by a local couple, and with a little detective work himself, Turko tracked the benches to a South Bay construction and junk yard close to Chollas Creek. The yard is owned and operated by George Gonzales of the Gonzalez Crane Service.
With the camera rolling, Turko confronted Gonzales about taking the benches. Gonzalez, in fact, stated that he was about to mail a letter to Turko Files claiming that he had been hired to take them. Under Turko’s questioning, he confirmed that his crane was used to remove them. However, Gonzalez would not give up the name of the person who hired him. Gonzalez claimed that he “had no idea that they were memorial benches,” until the truck brought them to the yard. Presumably there was a driver/ operator involved. Both benches have memorial statements on the front sides, impossible not to see.
The benches, clearly in view during in the KUSI news video, appeared to be without damage.
While waiting for the yard to open, Turko had called the police. Removing the benches is grand theft. When police arrived, they took Gonzalez in for questioning, but as of now he has not been charged with any crime.
The other hot news about the benches from the Turko Files this evening was the claim by Turko himself that the police know who took them, and that he knows who took it. “We have a real good idea who hired the crane operator,” he said. And then Turko stated that police have been in touch with that person, and that he would report any further developments.
- George Story – long time City of San Diego employee and U-T reporter – had his Ocean Beach memorial bench stolen also
- Mystery of the Missing Ocean Beach Memorial Benches Remains Unsolved