If you steal a Christmas tree in a town like New Milford, CT, you really are a heel.

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That is precisely what happened this past weekend, and folks were not going to take it lying down. On Saturday morning (12/10/22) around 6:30 am, Sue Markstaller Jonky was driving through the New Milford roundabout on her way to work, when she noticed something was missing, the Christmas tree.

It was an unmistakable vacancy because she'd made note of it's beauty when it was erected. I spoke to Sue who told me: "I noticed it the day the Erickson’s put it up and thought how beautiful it was , so I definitely noticed when it was missing."

She went directly to the community forum, the New Milford, CT Facebook page writing: "Not a positive post, but how sad, someone stole the Christmas tree at the roundabout last night."

Getty Images
Getty Images

The original tree, was one of two, donated by Scott's Landscaping and Nursery. Mike and Pat Erickson put the trees up with the help of New Milford Mayor Pete Bass. One was installed further up Route 7, and the other, in the roundabout. When Pat Erickson saw Sue Markstaller Jonky's post about the tree vanishing, she messaged her to make sure she wasn't seeing things. Jonky was not mistaken, the tree was gone.

The Facebook post by Sue Markstaller Jonky was seen by thousands of residents who were outraged and many of them developed plans to try and replace it. One of those residents is Lisa Marie Agee who happens to own Goatboy Soaps, the greatest family-owned soap company in America.

Facebook/Lisa Marie Agee
Facebook/Lisa Marie Agee

I'm a huge fan of Lisa's products and she happens to be a fan of my radio show, The I-95 Morning Show with Ethan, Lou & Large Dave. Lisa sent me a message, knowing this crime would interest, and offend me. She knew from listening to the show, that I love New Milford and asked if I would get the word out. Her message got to me on Saturday but I would not see it until Monday, when most of the saga had been settled.

Dave and I saw the message Monday and immediately worked the missing tree into our radio show. Later, we would find out from Lisa, how the rest of the story played out. Lisa told me the Ericksons didn't want to go back to Scott's Landscaping and ask for more trees from Collen Purcell. Instead, other arrangements were already underway. I spoke to New Milford Mayor Pete Bass, who told me:

"Northville Fire Department offered up a new tree and Home Depot gave us new ornaments and some lights. Pat and Mike Erickson helped decorate the old and new tree, as well as the tree by Veteran's Bridge."

The Mayor, Sue and Lisa, all agreed on one item, they all noted that Mike and Pat Erickson are always willing to serve their community. Lisa said: "Pat and Mike are the people that do things every single day and people never hear about it." It's unanimous with the people I spoke to, the Ericksons are the type of people who give, and don't ask for anything back.

I reached out to Pat Erickson to ask her how she felt when she realized the tree had been taken. Erickson responded right away, saying:

"I must say it bothered me more than I can even say. I was heartbroken that someone would steal a tree that was put up to bring the Christmas spirit to our town. My husband and I have been doing this with Mayor Pete for several years now. I first learned of it on Saturday morning on Facebook and I texted Pete I heard it was stolen. Of course his response was they are not going to ruin Christmas for us. I told friends I didn't have the spirit to do it all over again. Our biggest issue is there is no power in the 2 places the Mayor picked to have trees put up. It's difficult to get battery operated lights especially on short notice."

I also wanted to know how she felt when the Town rallied behind her and Mike, she said:

"Lisa from Goat Boy Soaps really got behind me to replace it. So By Saturday afternoon the tree was replaced and while we were putting it up many people shouted thank you it sure made it feel worthwhile. Thankfully Northville Fire dept donated a tree and Debbie and Aaron at Home Depot helped by donating all new decorations." 

New Milford
New Milford

This ugly little chapter turned into a story of civic duty and community pride. The Ericksons and the rest of New Milford, refused to stand idly by and let Christmas be ruined.

The tree was replaced, Christmas was saved and all seems well in New Milford, right? WRONG. While everyone else takes the high road, I will be the petty person, in search of vengeance for my former town. I will not rest until the perpetrator, or perpetrators are held accountable. OK, I'll probably go to bed around 9 pm tonight after I catch up on Yellowstone. BUT tomorrow, I will not rest until justice is served to this bad banana with a greasy black peel.

I've already sent a message to New Milford Police Chief Spencer Cerruto, requesting additional information on the case. I'll update this story as I get more information. Pat Erickson is a bit more reasonable about the suspects than I am. She told me: "I really hope that someone comes forward to tell us who did this. I would have bought them a tree if they really needed one."

We spoke about the missing tree on the I-95 Morning Show, Monday (12/12/22). At this point, Dave and I were unaware that the tree had been replaced, listen below.

To hear the rest of our coverage of the New Milford Grinch, check out the Ethan, Lou & Large Dave Show Podcast on Apple and Spotify.

P.S. This matter struck a chord with many people including Matt Carey. Matt is a former I-95 personality, one of my oldest friends, a New Milford resident and a person who can't avoid a media opportunity. Matt texted an audio file to me, explaining his feelings on the tree. Listen below.

He's obviously a terrible person and a plausible suspect. Below we discuss Matt's status in the community after his heel turn.

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