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Two arrested in thefts of cemetery urns

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Kenneth Lamar Jones, left, and Lorenzo Middlebrooks / June 04, 2014

A Richmond-area man, Kenneth Lamar Jones, 45, is behind bars after attempting to sell stolen funeral urns in the Leesburg area, and authorities believe he may be behind the theft of urns from Crestview Memorial Park in March.

Jones, also known as Rakim Salaam El-Amin, was taken into custody by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday, May 31, according to Mecklenburg County Sheriff Bobby Hawkins, who announced the arrest locally. Authorities picked up Jones after he allegedly tried to sell a trailer full of urns to a recycling center in the Leesburg area.

Also charged, along with Jones, was Lorenzo Middlebrooks, 30, of Richmond.

Hawkins said that when the owner of the recycling center saw the metal urns the two men were attempting to sell, he immediately contacted the Loudoun County Sheriff’s office, which made the arrest. Hawkins thanked the Loudoun County department for their diligence and quick response in the matter.

According to the Loudoun Sheriff’s office, Jones and Middlebrooks approached the owner of the recycling center, attempting to sell him a large quantity of bronze that looked like cemetery vases. The owner, whose name has not been released with the investigation pending, notified the sheriff’s office. Both Jones and Middlebrooks were arrested and the urns were recovered by authorities.

The two men are charged with purchasing bronze and distribution of stolen property in Loudoun County, but they are likely to face additional charges in Mecklenburg and possibly other counties.

This is still an ongoing investigation, said a spokesman with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s office, as they try to determine where the vases came from.

Hawkins credits Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Investigator D. L. “Rusty” Callahan with bringing about the arrest. Callahan was the officer who investigated a similar case in 2012. At the outset of this most recent set of thefts, he reached out to pawnshops, recycling centers, and scrapyards throughout the state, asking them to be on the lookout for anyone trying to sell bronze urns.

In May, Callahan presented the case to the grand jury in Mecklenburg County, and secured two felony indictments against Jones, one for grand larceny and the other for larceny with the intent to sell.

At the time of his arrest, Hawkins said that Jones had “a trailer full of urns,” but did not know if any were the ones that had been taken from graves at Crestview.

Jones and Middlebrooks are currently being held at the Adult Detention Center in Loudoun County. The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s office does not have a date for when Jones will be transferred to this county to stand trial for his alleged crimes.

At this time, there are no pending charges against Middlebrooks in Mecklenburg County.

Crestview Memorial Park in South Hill had over 130 bronze flower urns taken from gravesites between March 11 and March 13. More than 100 urns were removed from South Boston’s Memorial Gardens cemetery in late March, and in late March or early April, another 40 urns were removed from a cemetery in Hampton.

During the same time period, similar vases were also stolen from gravesites in Prince George, Chesapeake counties, and from Woodlawn Cemetery in Norfolk.

This is the second time in two years that urns were stolen from Crestview Memorial Park. In November 2012, Clint Anthony Reamey of Chase City was convicted of stealing stole urns from Crestview earlier that same year. Reamey was sentenced to 10 years in prison on two felony counts.

Officials still do not how many urns have been stolen, but it appears to be several hundred.

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