Flags Raised To Honor Dead Officer Get Stolen Again, New Suspect Arrested
Milton, DE – A second woman has now been arrested for taking down Thin Blue Line flags that were hung along Route 1 near Lewes.
A Delaware State Police trooper caught 23-year-old Ceryse Devaney early on the morning of July 20 taking down the six flags that had been hung in place of one that had been stolen and burned a week before, the Wilmington News Journal reported.
The flags were hung in honor and memory of recently fallen Delaware State Police Master Corporal William Matt, who was known to conduct a lot of traffic stops near Nassau Bridge where the flags were hung.
Police arrested Catherine Iocco, of Wilmington, on July 13 after witnesses saw her pull her black Chevrolet Malibu onto the left shoulder of the highway, and remove the single flag that had been hung in memory of Cpl. Matt.
The witness told that he saw Iocco take the flag down and bring it back to her car, according to Wilmington News Journal.
They gave police a description of Iocco’s vehicle and a tag number, according to Sergeant Richard Bratz of the Delaware State Police.
The witness also told police the woman used her cell phone as she drove away.
Police were able to track Iocco using the information on her vehicle, and arrested her in Milton. She told police she could not return the flag because she burned it, according to the Wilmington News Journal.
Iocco was charged with theft, criminal mischief and other related traffic charges, the Wilmington News Journal reported. She was arraigned and released on a $275 unsecured bond, and is scheduled for her next court appearance on Aug. 13.
In the meantime, the original flag was replaced with six flags in Cpt. Matt’s memory, hung by police supporters.
A state trooper on patrol noticed a vehicle parked on the median strip of the highway, and stopped to investigate.
Court documents said the trooper found Devaney standing next to six thin blue line flags that were on the ground.
The trooper noticed Devaney had blood on her hands, and that there was blood on the flags, possibly from an injury sustained while cutting the flags down, the Wilmington News Journal reported.
At the time, the trooper did not know to whom the flags belonged, so Devaney was released.
However, she was arrested on Tuesday after the trooper investigated and found the flags’ owner.
Tim Dale and Dave Repass had placed the thin blue line flag on the Nassau Bridge because Trooper Matt was known to conduct traffic stops near that bridge, according to WBOC-TV.
Cpl. Matt’s wife and son passed away in a motor vehicle collision approximately eight years ago, but the trooper never stopped carrying on for his family and his department, Representative Steve Smyk, a close friend and neighbor, told Delmarva Now.
"A similar tragedy would have crushed many men, yet he found a way through his grief, not only to raise his remaining children, but to work with me in the Delaware State Troopers Association to help officers experiencing their own adversities,” said Smyk, who also served in the Delaware State Police.
"Anyone who knew Bill was aware he had a wonderful, bellowing voice,” Smyk recalled. “When used to its full effect, I actually saw him stop criminals in their tracks.”
Cpl. Matt was also a United States Army veteran, and later retired from the Delaware National Guard at the rank of captain.
In September, he would have faced mandatory retirement from the state police force, Smyk said.
"I am among the many who will miss Bill in about every way he can be missed,” he said. “With his passing, Delaware has lost one of its exemplary citizens.”
Devaney was charged with attempt to commit theft and criminal mischief, the Wilmington News Journal reports. She was released on $750 unsecured bail and her arraignment was scheduled for August.