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2 men charged in Burke County grave robbery

Monday, April 22, 2013 7:17 PM
Last updated 10:10 PM
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Two Waynesboro, Ga., men were charged Monday in a Burke County grave robbery in which the remains of an infant casket and the corpses of five Confederate and Revolutionary War soldiers were dug up.

The iron casket of a 14-month-old was removed at Old Church Cemetery in Burke County.   BURKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
BURKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
The iron casket of a 14-month-old was removed at Old Church Cemetery in Burke County.


Jerry Atkinson, 39, and Ralph Hillis Jr. could face up to five years in prison if convicted of the seldom-used felony charge of malicious removal of the dead from a grave. The charges were filed by the Burke County Sheriff’s Office.

Hillis, who goes by the nickname “Bubba,” was in custody in Richmond County on Monday night, but Atkinson remained at large, said Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey.

Burke County deputies searched Atkinson’s Morris Village home Monday off Georgia Highway 24, where a methamphetamine lab was discovered, Coursey said. More charges are expected in the case.

The desecration of five graves at Old Church Cemetery was discovered April 13 when Roy Bell, the commander of American Legion Post 120, the memorial’s caretaker, went to the burial grounds to mow the grass.

Bell said he found parts of an old uniform on the ground and at least five graves looted.

A $2,000 reward generated a number of solid leads to police, one of which Bell said was made by a witness to the grave robbing.

Bell said “without a doubt” the reward will be paid, but he could not say who will receive the money and when.

“After the sheriff’s office has completed their investigation, the witness will receive their reward,” Bell said.

Bell said members of American Legion Post 120 have temporarily sealed the five graves with sheets of aluminum and formed a work committee to permanently rededicate the sites.

“The sheriff’s office has done an excellent job,” Bell said. “I am proud to have them serve Burke County.”

Malicious removal of the dead from a grave carries a prison sentence of one to five years.

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Young Fred
17860
Points
Young Fred 04/22/13 - 10:18 pm
3
0
Five years it not near long

Five years it not near long enough.

Bodhisattva
6464
Points
Bodhisattva 04/23/13 - 05:13 am
3
2
It's the south
Unpublished

It wouldn't have shocked me to see the line, "who also goes by the nickname "Bubba"".

eschamb
154
Points
eschamb 04/23/13 - 06:10 am
4
0
Grave Diggers

I think a life time sentence of taking care of that cemetery should be the punishment and to be supervised by the Sheriff's department. The two would also have to finance their own cleaning of the cemetery.

Itsallnew11
547
Points
Itsallnew11 04/23/13 - 09:29 am
1
0
Another charge in their long list

Again this is a case of where the justice system has and will fail because both of these men are repeat offenders and carry long lists of charges with them. I hope they get the full five and have to serve every single day of it. If the judicial system would make the offenders serve out thier full sentence in jail instead of "inmate heaven" then maybe they would be less apt to recommit after they are released.

my.voice
4914
Points
my.voice 04/23/13 - 09:47 am
1
0
Doesn't everyone in

Bubba did it........imagine that.

That photo of the infant casket is a sad little picture.

Ego556
327
Points
Ego556 04/23/13 - 10:01 am
2
0
sick! what people will do for

sick! what people will do for the hope of a little money.

GiantsAllDay
9851
Points
GiantsAllDay 04/23/13 - 10:14 am
0
0
I'm hoping that the five

I'm hoping that the five years will just be the beginning. When they tack on the meth charges, maybe they will do some real time.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 04/23/13 - 10:21 am
0
0
Cold. Just cold-hearted to

Cold. Just cold-hearted to desecrate a child's resting place.

Farmboy
966
Points
Farmboy 04/23/13 - 10:50 am
0
0
Payment for Repairs

They should be made to pay out of their own pockets for the reburial of the deceased and clean up of the cemetery.

dichotomy
34353
Points
dichotomy 04/23/13 - 02:35 pm
0
0
I'm sure the law does not

I'm sure the law does not allow the punishment these folks deserve.

my.voice
4914
Points
my.voice 04/23/13 - 02:35 pm
0
0
Make them stand on main

Make them stand on main street holding that little coffin for a week. Then put up a billboard at their expense with a photo so everyone can see their faces.

gargoyle
18553
Points
gargoyle 04/23/13 - 09:49 pm
0
0
The law may not be able to

The law may not be able to deal will with them but everyone should consider shunning them. Make sure they are not welcome anywhere people meet, Make sure they can't make or spend money or recive aid or find comfort anywhere.Anyone who see's them point them out to those who don't know them that they are what they are .We just don't need folks like that around here

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