Witnesses called police at about 5 p.m. on Monday, June 6, to report someone spray painting the bronze statue of the nose-wiggling sitcom witch played by Elizabeth Montgomery in the ’60s.
The statue depicts Montgomery as Samantha Stephens, the lead character of the popular TV series, Bewitched, sitting on a broomstick in front of a crescent moon, reminiscent of the show’s animated opening credits.
A local police officer in the area spotted a man fitting witness descriptions of the vandal, and, after a brief chase, arrested a 32-year-old city resident on charges of defacing public property, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct, Burke said.
His motivation remains unclear.
“In between meetings, was disappointed to hear the Bewitched Samantha statute downtown was vandalized,” Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll tweeted Monday night. “I’m grateful to (Salem police) for their quick work apprehending the individual responsible. We’ll work to get the statue cleaned as fast as a twitch of Samantha’s nose.”
Red paint on the upper half of the statue has already been cleaned off, Burke said.
The statue was erected in the city famous for the 1692 witch trials in 2005, despite protests from some who said it trivializes the tragedy of the trials. The show Bewitched featured four episodes set in Salem.
Montgomery died in 1995 at the age of 62 of cancer. She played Samantha Stephens, the pretty and friendly witch married to mortal, Darren Stephens on Bewitched for eight seasons airing on ABC from September 17, 1964, to March 25, 1972.
Bewitched was ranked No. 50 on “TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.”