BLACKSTONE, Va. -- The mystery concerning headstones and other grave markers going missing from nine cemeteries across Central Virginia and then appearing at a graveyard in Blackstone is deepening.
CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil learned Thursday that items have also been taken from Richmond’s historic Hollywood Cemetery.
The news comes after items from Shockoe Hill Cemetery in Richmond as well as items from other cemeteries mysteriously turned up in Lakeview Cemetery in Blackstone.
"There's nothing about it that makes any sense,” Candy Early, who lives next to the cemetery, said. “Why would you steal something from someone's grave and put it in another cemetery?"
Early said she has spotted late-night activity at the gravesite.
"Tremendous amount of activity of people coming in and out of the cemetery, especially late at night time," Early revealed.
The number of cemeteries and items discovered continues to grow.
In fact, Blackstone Town Manager Philip Vannoorbeck said officials confirmed a ninth cemetery was involved as of Wednesday.
Last week nearly two dozen items, including head stones, crosses and makers -- all from other graveyards -- were removed from here at Lakeview Cemetery and placed in storage.
But in another bizarre twist, officials discovered more new additions.
"We found two on Wednesday that definitively didn't belong there and we believe those were placed after we removed all the items the week previous,” Vannoorbeck said.
Blackstone Police Chief Nicholas Kuzmiak said that he has investigated cemetery thefts over the years, but nothing like this case.
“Someone would take an item and remove it, but not necessarily replace it in another cemetery," Kuzmiak pointed out.
Four cemeteries in Richmond, including Shockoe Hill and Hollywood, had thefts with items recovered in Lakeview Cemetery. Now we're learning a cemetery in Lynchburg had a theft and that the missing marker was also discovered in Lakeview.
Officials said they have made contact with the nine cemeteries with grave markers that have been identified. However, while some of the items can be returned, officials worry others may never get back to where they belong.
"If we can play a small role and get these items returned to the families as quickly as possible, I’d be proud of that,” Kuzmiak said.
Shockoe Hill Cemetery was able to get a picture of a suspect allegedly taking items. He has been charged in that crime. But authorities said no other arrests have been made in the case.
If you visit a loved one's grave and find something missing or added, contact Blackstone Police at 434-292-3322.
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