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A handmade bench has gone missing from the gravesite of fallen FWC officer Julian Keen

Posted at 8:20 PM, Sep 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-21 20:20:48-04

IMMOKALEE — People in Immokalee are looking for a bench they say was stolen from the grave site of fallen Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Julian Keen.

Keen was killed back in June while making a traffic stop in LaBelle, and the bench was designed to honor Keen’s nickname “Batman”.

Collier County runs the Lake Trafford Memorial Gardens in Immokalee, where Keen is buried, but it says it didn’t remove the bench, and it doesn’t know who did. But the county was able to release still frames from security footage that shows roughly when the bench disappeared.

A photo from Sunday, September 13th at 5:55 p.m shows the bench next to the grave, while a photo from the next morning on Monday, September 14th at 8:13 a.m. shows that it has been removed.

The County believes someone had to have taken the bench during that time frame.

“We just want it returned. Just can’t believe somebody would do that," said Charles Barnes.

Barnes is offering a $5,000 reward out of his own pocket to get the bench back where it belongs. He said it was handmade by some of Keen’s closest friends, and it had a lot of sentimental value.

“He was a good crime fighter. He fought evil, so we called him Batman, and everything he did from the heart, and he honestly was a true life hero," said Barnes.

Barnes has posted about the bench on Facebook to get the word out, and it’s already received more than 1,000 shares. He said it’s not about the money, or about who did it, it’s just about making sure Keen is remembered.

“It was donated to be here. It was built to be here by his friends for people to sit down at his grave site and remember him and talk to him and just be with him, and the bench needs to be here with him," said Barnes.

There is a report filed with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, so if you know anything about what might have happened to the bench, you can call the department’s non-emergency line at (239) 252-9300.