Toppled tombstones, gaping holes and broken concrete slabs litter this Confederate cemetery.
Once sacred ground is now the scene of a crime. torn apart by vandals who pillaged the final resting place of the dead in search of pleasures for the living.
“You've got a lot of people that search for trinkets in historical things to try to sell. Some of them keep them for their own purposes to put them on a shelf or to say they have them,” says Sergeant Sean Cochran, of the Burke County Sheriff's Office.
Clues scattered among the ruins in this cemetery may unearth a bigger crime. Sergeant Cochran explains, “people now are coming up that watch these 'Antique Road Shows' and 'Pawn Stars' and things like that, that see these items are selling a lot of money. They know these places are out there and they can get their hands on it.”
By stealing from history, the thieves may have bought themselves some jail time in the future. Disturbing a grave is a crime. Furthermore, military graves are protected by federal law.
Carol Jones and the Burke County Genealogical Society are doing their part to protect local graves and the history buried beneath. She says this recent vandalism is a reminder of the importance of tracking current information of lives from the past. Jones explains, “It's the wake up call that we need to take care of these old cemeteries and to inventory the contents of these cemeteries before their lost.”
Or land in the hands of thieves who prey on the dead while trying to make money off the living and digging others deeper into crime along the way. “If you have knowledge or believe that something may be stolen and you purchase that item you could be charged as well,” says Sgt. Cochran.