Grave robbers go to jail

Published 11:47 am Tuesday, January 20, 2015

WINTON – Two local men arrested 14 months ago for stealing brass ornamental vases from graves at Highland Memorial Gardens near Ahoskie will spend time behind bars for that crime.

Frank Albert Clow, 23, of Castelow Road, Cofield, and 33-year-old Derrick Dunlow of Ahoskie received active prison sentences handed down by Judge Quentin Sumner of Rocky Mount during a term of Superior Court in Winton last week.

The pair was found guilty of six Class E felonies, to include larceny, obtaining property by false pretense, and possession of stolen goods. Judge Sumner sentenced both men to serve 10-to-21 months in prison on each charge, to run concurrently.

In the matter of the 30 Class I felony charges (disturbing a casket or a grave marker) lodged against both men, Judge Sumner ordered the duo to serve 6-to-17 months on each charge, but suspended the sentence on the term of 24 months probation.

The Judge also ordered both men to pay a combined $4,824 in restitution to the management firm of Highland Memorial Gardens. That money represents the value of the brass ornamental vases that were not recovered or were beyond repair.

The two men were arrested in November of 2013 after an investigation by the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office.

According to a report filed at that time by Hertford County Sheriff’s Deputy Zachery Mize, he was summoned to Highland Memorial Gardens and met there with the manager, Jonoka Farmer. Mize was advised there were several vases missing from around the tower area in the center of the cemetery and to the left of the tower. Each vase was valued at $400.

As part of his investigation, Mize traveled a short distance north on US 13 to Milestone Metals, a recycling company. There he met with Milestone manager William Conner, asking him if anyone had brought in vases to sell.

Conner showed Mize two sales receipts with Clow’s name on both – one for $31.50 for 18 pounds of brass and another for $122.50 for 70 pounds of brass. Those transactions took place on Nov. 27, 2013.

Conner also showed Mize photographs of Clow beside the metal he brought in. Mize said a vase was visible in one of the photos.

“I also observed the bin where Mr. Conner advised me Mr. Clow dumped his metal in which I could identify one of the vases that came from Highland Memorial Gardens,” Mize noted in his report.

There was another sale at Milestone Metals involving 430 pounds of brass vases that netted Clow a check for $769.70. However, the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office was tipped off concerning the sale and Clow was in the custody of HCSO Deputy Brian Pearce when Mize returned to the recycling business.

Clow consented to a search of his vehicle where Mize said a single vase was found hidden under a seat as well as a duffle bag on the back seat containing 14 vases. Also found in the vehicle were a reciprocating saw, a 12-gauge shotgun and a 22 caliber long rifle.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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