ASHLAND — The Abraham Lincoln statue in Lithia Park is headless again, just 16 months after it was repaired.

ASHLAND — The Abraham Lincoln statue in Lithia Park is headless again, just 16 months after it was repaired.

Nathan Twiss, an Ashland police park patrol officer, discovered Lincoln's head and hand were missing Sunday morning. He said the vandalism took place sometime between 9 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

The sculpture already had been decapitated four times, first in 1958 and most recently in August 2005. It had been repaired in February 2007 with a head made in China.

The standing Lincoln was crafted in Italy in the studio of Antonio Frilli, whose name is inscribed at the base. It's unclear whether Frilli himself was the artist, because he died around 1895, and most of the studio's records were lost in a flood.

The statue was a gift to the city from Gwin S. Butler, who donated it as a memorial to his stepfather, pioneer Jacob Thompson, who came to Ashland in 1847.

The second beheading occurred in 1967. Hamid Ghavam, a student at what was then Southern Oregon College, repaired the head and removed blue paint from the statue in 1968.

The third beheading occurred in 1973, and parks officials relegated Lincoln's likeness to storage for more than a decade. The statue was restored in 1991 and reintroduced to the public with a new head on its shoulders.

Don Robertson, director of Ashland's parks and recreation department, said the latest decapitation appeared deliberate. He said there had to be more than one person involved, and that vandals chiseled away at the head and then sawed off the metal rod used to secure the head to the torso.

Police estimated the damage at around $1,200.

The parks department did have a spare head for just such an emergency, but Robertson said that the repairs could be more extensive because the rod had been cut. He said the statue may be taken down to better assess the damage and decide whether another location might be more suitable.

"I can't express how frustrated and disappointed I am that this happened," Robertson said. "The real story is the amount of vandalism that occurs in this community and how much it costs to repair the damage."

He referred to recent vandalism to the Perozzi Fountain in Lithia Park, where he said vandals climbed to the top of the fountain and removed a cherub. He also cited damage to the park's drinking fountain, which has been out of service since it was damaged in 2006.

"Whoever did this needs to grow a conscience and do the right thing and call us," Robertson said.

Ron Hansen, of Gold & Gems jewelry store, said he wants a camera focused on the statue.

"I think this has happened enough times to warrant that kind of security. I'm a taxpayer who'd be completely willing to pay for the camera," he said.

Ashland Police Deputy Chief Rich Walsh said the department has no suspects.

Michele Mihalovich is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 482-3456 or mmihalovich@dailytidings.com.