ATLANTA (AP) — Authorities say graves at one of Georgia’s oldest cemeteries have been desecrated and they are trying to find whoever removed a child’s casket and dumped a soldier’s uniform on the ground.
A reward of more than $2,000 is being offered for clues about the desecration of graves at the Old Church Cemetery, which dates to 1758 and is located in the east Georgia countryside near Waynesboro.
Leroy Bell Jr., commander of the American Legion post that cares for the cemetery, discovered the damage Saturday. He said a small iron casket containing the remains of a 14-month-old girl buried there in 1884 was removed and its contents strewn about.
“They took it completely out and dumped everything out,” Bell told The Associated Press. “I just can’t understand it, other than the fact they were wanting some kind of trinkets.”
It was not immediately clear how many graves were desecrated. But authorities said buttons were taken from military clothing. One of the items left on the ground appeared to be a soldier’s uniform coat.
Burke County sheriff’s Sgt. Sean Cochran said the bones of at least one soldier were left exposed.
He said relic hunting was a possible motive though authorities were not immediately certain what prompted the grave desecration.
Leaders of a local American Legion Post were planning to rededicate soldiers’ graves and restore damaged monuments.