The Walking Deadbeat

You'd have to dig pretty deep to find a crime this depraved

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There are more heinous crimes, certainly, but grave robbing is about as low as you can go.

It desecrates what many believe is a sacred burial plot. Most of us would feel extreme guilt even having stepped on a grave by accident, much less plundering it purposely.

It shows the highest possible disregard for the descendants of those whose grave has been violated. It shows an equally disgusting irreverence for the lives and memories represented by a tomb, so callously disturbed for temporary gain in a very fleeting material world.

In addition, there’s the more practical consideration of the damage done to posterity; the perfectly legitimate pursuits of history and archaeology are trampled on by reckless, thoughtless, self-serving thieves. As if by some kind of reverse alchemy, treasures of antiquity are turned into the fool’s gold of pawn shops and back alleys. In the process, beautiful stories told by heirlooms and relics are ripped from the pages of history and turned into scrap.

It’s bad enough to steal from your contemporaries. But to steal from past generations? Contemptible doesn’t quite describe it.

By necessity – because the prisons are already brimming with those who do harm to the living – the penalties for grave robbing may never fit the pure loathsomeness of the crime. In Georgia, it can bring but one to five years in prison. And that’s only if the judge has had a bad day.

But rest assured, the crime comes with plenty more public scorn than that.

It’s for this kind of depravity that we’ve decided the words “crime” and “offense” are synonymous.

The perpetrators in a Burke County grave robbery discovered April 13 were particularly brazen, detestable and sloppy: Uniforms were left scattered on the ground and a caretaker at Old Church Cemetery discovered that the graves of five Revolutionary War and Confederate soldiers and one infant had been picked through. Artifacts appear to be still missing, and now experts have to take time away from their real lives to try to piece it all together and minimize these deadbeats’ damage.

Two men have been arrested in the grave robbing, and a third for allegedly sheltering one of the two after he eluded capture for several weeks, in part by dressing up as a woman. The two primary suspects are also charged with manufacturing methamphetamine.

Drugs don’t excuse anything, but may explain a lot. We pray if that’s the inspiration in this case that those responsible will now be able to see the depths to which they’ve sunk.

Their first hint should be the fact that there’s nothing beneath them.

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Riverman1 05/03/13 - 04:53 am

The whole matter makes me think I'd rather be cremated when my time comes. It may take a thousand years or so, but eventually some future miscreant is going to be digging you up.

Bodhisattva 05/03/13 - 06:39 am
At what points do you go from

At what points do you go from grave robber, to collector, to archaeologist?

soapy_725 05/03/13 - 07:09 am
At what point does a moral impertive meet government

needs. Everyday,across this country the desire for land "trumps" abandoned cemeteries and burial grounds. Though laws have been passed, they are weak and allow for the discretion of government officials to decide the "greater good". The sanctity of a grave has a price. Grave robber, realtors and land developers. The same goal. To derive wealth at the expense of respect for the dead.

Numerous local cemeteries have be disgraced by developers. The most obvious one because of its proximity to Washington Rd. It was in front of Quaker Springs Apartments. A car dealership needed more room. It the ensuing excavation, coffins and other remains were visible to those passing while a decision was made as where to "relocate" the remains.

Progress and the resulting profits can not be limited by the remains of humans who no longer have rights. More societal inconvenience. Unwanted babies. Unwanted elderly. Unwanted burial remains.

The Abandoned Cemeteries and Burial Grounds Act of Georgia is overlooked and unenforced all of the time. Individuals who own or purchase land with a cemetery located on same have a legal, moral and financial obligation to protect and preserve that cemetery.

Grave robbing by excavation or simply plowing over the tombstones and selling the land. Each generate money.

soapy_725 05/03/13 - 07:13 am
Two 1700's cemeteries on Washington Rd

will be the next victims of urban sprawl in CC. And the excuse will be that they are not on GA DOT maps. When GA DOT maps are updated, there is not a concerted effort to look for tombstones. But the highway needs to be widened? One is a Rev. War cemetery. The other is the Low(e) Family Cemetery.

t3bledsoe 05/03/13 - 10:25 am
Very good letter

Even if someone is abolutely financial broke, there is no reason to plunder graves.

scoopdedoop64 05/03/13 - 10:08 pm
I think that when you dig up

I think that when you dig up graves just to get rob the contents that it is wrong and called grave robbing. If you are talking hundreds or thousands of years when you are gaining historical knowledge then I think that is a legitimate reason but even then you should consider how to respect the dead remains.

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