A Springfield cemetery is now checking grave sites and its inventory after more than 70 bronze and copper vases were stolen from its grounds.
Clark County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested Kenneth B. Pryor, 55, 425 W. Pleasant Ave., after he admitted he stole the vases from Rose Hill Burial Park over the weekend, according to a sheriff’s office news release.
Pryor pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of theft and a misdemeanor desecration charge in the Clark County Municipal Court. A judge set his bond at $6,000.
“A person who is a grave robber is about as low as you can go,” Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly said.
An employee at PCS Scrap Metals on Sherman Avenue reported to detectives that the vases had been dropped off. The suspect allegedly used a person with developmental disabilities to deliver the vases to the scrap yard, Kelly said, but took the money himself.
Detectives arrested Pryor on Monday evening and said they believe he stole the vases Friday night.
Pryor reportedly told detectives he got the idea to steal the vases when he visited his mother’s grave for Mothers Day, Kelly said.
“I feel so badly for everybody that’s been affected like this,” said Hettie Spurgeon, who was checking her family’s graves on Wednesday. “It is sad to think they would even think to take a vase off a grave.”
Spurgeon checked the graves of several family members. One of the first stops was at her husband’s grave, who served in the Korean War.
“I just can’t imagine that someone would do something like this and especially Memorial Day,” Spurgeon said. “It is hard to absorb.”
Rose Hill Burial Park General Manager Jim Wright said everyone at the cemetery was disappointed to hear about the thefts.
“Stealing is reprehensible to begin with, let alone from a cemetery,” Wright said.
Each vase costs about $100, he said. The scrap yard returned about 30 of them on Wednesday.
It will take some time to replace all of the vases, Wright said, because Rose Hill will have to order some from manufactures across the country.
Deputies will increase their patrols in the area at night, he said.
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