LINCOLN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A former cemetery worker is charged with stealing a plaque and human ashes from a grave in Lincolnton. Police say the man took a gold wedding ring that had been placed in the urn with the ashes.
Ray Ellis Herron Jr. of Dallas is accused of digging up the plaque and a granite slab at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Lincolnton. The slab contained the cremated remains of Trudy Bumgarner, a Cleveland County native who died in September 2012. Herron was an employee of Forest Lawn at the time of Bumgarner's death and investigators say he assisted the family in placing the wedding ring inside the urn.
Someone spotted the items from the grave near a bridge on Magnolia Grove Road on July 24. Police recovered all the missing items except for the gold wedding band. Investigators say Herron pawned the ring in Gaston County.
Bumgarner's family contacted WBTV after the theft was discovered. They were understandably upset by the incident.
"What can you say in a situation like this," Trudy's husband, Ronnie said as he cried. "It's just hard to know somebody could do this. I do not know why a person could be so mean."
Trudy's daughter felt the same.
"I cried," Crystal said. "I was so sad... wondering who would take my mom like this?"
Ronnie added that "I'd rather have her remains back. They can keep the rest of it."
Herron is charged with one felony count of desecrating a grave, larceny, and possession of stolen goods. He was jailed under a $5000 bond and has a court appearance scheduled for Friday, July 31.
The sheriff's office credited cooperation of citizens and law enforcement for bringing quick closure to the case.