An Alabama sheriff is looking for the people responsible for digging up the grave of a man buried in 1882.
According to Opelika-Auburn News, Lee County settler Samuel Jones’ grave was dug up at Flint Hill Cemetery earlier this week.
Lee County Sherriff Jay Jones said he can’t say for sure if they disturbed the remains, but Edna Ward of the Lee County Cemetery Preservation Commission said no body or casket was found. "Let me put it like this: Where Jones was laid to rest, there’s an empty hole," Ward explained. "There’s nothing left. They took it all," she added. "I don’t have words to describe it. I don’t understand why somebody would do something like this."
"Any crime involving vandalism is of concern but desecration of a grave is of specific concern. Not only for the criminal act but for the families of those interred. There is no excuse for those who engage in disturbing a gravesite and we will aggressively seek to identify those responsible," Sheriff Jones said.
Authorities were made aware of the incident on Monday, March 29. Upon arriving to the scene, they found that the slab that had covered Jones’ grave was damaged and moved to the side, despite weighing several hundred pounds. "A good amount of soil was removed from the grave site," Jones said and added that the gravediggers may have hoped to find valuables with the body but it was unlikely that Jones’ was buried with anything of value.
According to district attorney for Lee County, Jessica Ventiere, the destruction of a tomb or grave could see the perpetrators met with a Class C felony charge. The theft of a body would bring similar charges. Ward explained that the Lee County Cemetery Preservation Commission would be seeking restitution.
"It’s just a crying shame, and this time we aren’t going to stop until these people are caught," Ward said. "There are many fine people who have lived here for years, but there’s also a couple of scoundrels among us apparently, and this needs to stop."
Last year Jones’ grave was also disturbed when the obelisk was pushed over and broken. Sheriff Jones explained that the difference this time is that the whole grave is gone.
While minor vandalism is not uncommon to graves, Sheriff Jones said this instance was "a little bit different." "They actually removed the slab on the grave and dug out a significant portion of the grave itself," Jones explained. "That’s not the usual thing we encounter. This is not the common vandalism we see."
Investigators have been assigned to the case and hope to find and prosecute the perpetrators.