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Motives, identities of gravesite culprits continue to vex police

SoVaNow.com / April 02, 2014
Authorities still don’t know why anyone would tamper with two separate graves at cemeteries near La Crosse, nor do they know the identity of the culprit or culprits. However, a thorough search of the nearly 200 known church cemeteries and graveyards in the area has uncovered no new desecrations since the two incidents were reported last week.

Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Andy Ezell said the case remains an “open and active investigation” and police are asking citizens to remain vigilant, and to check and recheck the graves of family members and loved ones for any signs of disturbance.

News of a defiled grave first reached Mecklenburg County Sheriff Bobby Hawkins on Monday, March 24, when a caller to the office said it appeared as if someone had tampered with a gravesite at the Canaan Cemetery near Brodnax, and asked the Sheriff’s office to investigate.

A subsequent search of all other known cemeteries in the county turned up a second desecrated grave Tuesday afternoon — this one at the Restview RZUA Church Cemetery in La Crosse, just a few miles down the road from the first site.

Both bodies were interred more than a decade ago: the grave at Canaan Cemetery contained the remains of a 44-year-old woman who died in Georgia in 2000, and was buried in a family plot. The second grave held the remains of a seven-month-old boy who died in 1999.

Deputies know of no connection between the two burial sites.

The initial call notifying deputies about the first grave, in Canaan Cemetery, came in around 5:00 p.m. on March 24. When Investigators arrived at the scene, they saw that dirt around the sepulcher was displaced. It was not until deputies dug down to the casket that they were able to confirm “in fact, the casket had been compromised,” Hawkins said.

The Virginia State Police were called in, and Hawkins contacted Brunswick County Sheriff Brian Roberts, alerting him to their discovery. Roberts dispatched deputies to begin searching graveyards throughout Brunswick County, while Mecklenburg County deputies conducted a similar search in this county.

The families of the victims were notified and kept abreast of the investigation.

With the probe on-going, Hawkins is calling on the public for help: “If you have a loved one buried at a cemetery, go check and make sure there is no tampering or disturbance of their grave sites have occurred. If you discover a problem please call the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency number 434-738-6171.

Anyone with information about this crime is encouraged to call the number listed above or Crime Solvers at 877-676-8477. You do not have to give your name when reporting a crime.



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