Search for stolen grave markers continues | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | July 27, 2016 5:00 pm
Last Updated: July 27, 2016 at 2:30 pm
By GEORGE SALSBERRY
Colleton County Sheriff’s Office investigators are continuing to work the case of the missing gravestones.
Meanwhile, representatives of the Heavenly Rest Cemetery at 2061 Cottagevile Highway are continuing to work to make sure that the surviving relatives of the deceased who had their final resting places targeted are aware of the theft.
On July 14, a relative of one of the people buried at the cemetery visited the sheriff’s office headquarters to report that the gravestone of his nephew was missing.
He reported that the gravestone, a light grey granite marker about 24 inches by 24 inches, was gone from the grave site.
Indications are that the grave marker had been pulled from the ground sometime between July 4 and July 14.
Shortly after his visit to the sheriff’s office, a representative of the cemetery contacted the sheriff’s office to report that it appeared that at least 13 grave markers, which sit flush with the ground, had been removed.
The investigation into the theft was turned over to Lt. David Long, with other detectives participating in the investigation.
Lt. Shane Roberts, the sheriff’s office public information officer, said messages were dispatched to all the road patrol members, advising them of the theft and asking them to be on the lookout for any grave markers during their patrols.
The sheriff’s office, Roberts said, attempted to reach officials of other cemeteries in the county to alert them to the theft and suggest they check their facilities.
Investigators also called other neighboring jurisdictions to see if they had experienced similar thefts. It seemed that the assault on Heavenly Rest was an isolated incident.
Meanwhile, the cemetery’s bid to inform surviving relatives of the loss resulted in three more survivors coming to the sheriff’s office to file reports.
Roberts said the missing grave markers were all granite; some had bronze plates on them and some of the gravesites had bronze flower vases that were also taken.
While the bronze items can be melted down, Roberts said, and the granite markers can be resurfaced to eliminate the etching, it is a process that cannot be done without specialized equipment and know-how.
Roberts said that the weight of each marker would vary based on its size. Each one, he added, would weigh approximately 100 pounds.
“I have not seen anything like this take place — it is an oddity,” Roberts said. “People steal the darnedess things.”
“I’m trying to understand why someone would do such an act, an act that shows so little respect for deceased individuals and their families.”
The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office is seeking information on this crime. If anyone has information concerning the incident, they can contact the sheriff’s office at 843-549-2211 or Crimestoppers at 843-554-1111, Roberts said.