THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Mother appeals for return of precious stolen phone

By Jenna Duncan
Globe Correspondent / June 23, 2011

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The Melansons went to Riverside Cemetery in Fairhaven to plant gerbera daisies around infant Emma’s grave, in advance of the June 30 first anniversary of her death. They came away with what they consider another insurmountable loss.

As they were cleaning the grave and planting the flowers Sunday evening, Father’s Day, they saw a man near their car, with the passenger door open. He ran away, and they soon realized that Samantha Melanson’s cellphone, containing some of the only photos of her daughter’s five hours of life, was missing.

Police arrested the suspect, Shaun Davis, 26, Tuesday night near his home in New Bedford. After his arraignment yesterday, authorities called on the public to help find the missing cellphone.

Family members are less concerned with Davis’s arrest, said Cathy Melanson, Emma’s grandmother. They just want the memory card from the phone, which contains pictures that were not duplicated, Melanson said.

“There’s just some pictures on there that on [Samantha’s] sad days she would just look through,’’ she said. “It’s always a memory and a thought of what would have been. June 30 is right around the corner, and right now is just a very bad time for the family.’’

After the family spotted the man by the car, Samantha Melanson yelled at him, Cathy Melanson said. The man turned and fled, and Samantha gave chase.

“The victim followed after him, while her mother drove down the side street where they encountered him,’’ said Fairhaven Police Sergeant Kevin Kobza. “He denied all knowledge of what they were talking about, and he ran off.’’

The man, who once lived near the cemetery, was identified by a former neighbor and was arrested Tuesday about 10 p.m. by Fairhaven detectives, Kobza said.

“It’s the whole timing of the thing,’’ Cathy Melanson said. “We just want the memory card back, we don’t even care about the cellphone.’’

Davis was arraigned in New Bedford yesterday, charged with larceny over $250, breaking and entering into a motor vehicle, and an attempt to commit a felony, Kobza said.

He was being held on $5,000 cash bail.

Investigators asked that anyone with information on the cellphone call Fairhaven Police at 508-997-7421.

Jenna Duncan can be reached at jduncan@globe.com.