August 11, 2020

Graveyard robbery suspects arrested after trying to sell stolen cemetery fencing, police say

Adams County officials arrested two men Wednesday morning in connection to a string graveyard robberies in Jefferson and Franklin counties.

Elijah Hoggatt and Theodore Merrick both of Adams County were arrested and charged with possession of stolen property after the two were discovered at a salvage yard with a truckload of iron including fence posts and other materials just before 11 a.m. Wednesday, law officials said.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department notified him that iron fencing had been stolen from various graveyards in Jefferson and Franklin counties.

The Jefferson County Sheriff officials said they had received a tip that the items may have been taken to a salvage yard at 505 Liberty Road in Natchez on Wednesday morning.

“When deputies pulled up, the grave robbers were actually sitting at the fence with the stolen items on the back of a pickup,” Patten said.

A ton of iron fencing appeared to have been dug up, pulled apart and hauled to the location to be sold, Patten said.

Patten said the metal could be worth between $4,000 and $5,000.

Deputies also recovered a sugar kettle they said may have been taken from someone’s yard but officials have not located the owner.

Some iron fencing was taken from the Wood’s Family Cemetery, located near Mississippi 553 in Church Hill, officials said.

Bill Dale, whose wife Cammie Wood Dale is affiliated with the cemetery, said he noticed parts of the fence were missing on Saturday afternoon and alerted the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

Patten said investigators hadn’t determined whether anything had been stolen from the Natchez City Cemetery or other historic cemeteries.

“This is an ongoing investigation and more arrests are possible,” Patten said.