Century old tombstones found damaged, disposed of in Dare County - WNCN: News, Weather

Century old tombstones found damaged, disposed of in Dare County dumpster

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CAPE HATTERAS, N.C. - Deputies have charged a suspect after tombstones more than a century old were found damaged and tossed into a Dare County dumpster.

The Dare County Sheriff's Office says they've charged 59-year-old Leland Eyre Haller, Jr. with Deface Grave Site (misdemeanor). He was charged on a criminal summons.
The incident upset a small community in Dare County.

Since March, the Dare County Sheriff’s Office has been working hard to try and piece together the case behind two broken tombstones.

On March 21st, someone noticed the broken tombstones in the dumpster off NC Highway 12 near Hatteras. Deputies say two stones more than 100 years old and a footstone were broken into 10 pieces.

Since then, investigators have spent hour upon hour trying to find out who the tombstones belong to. Deputies say the more than 100 year wear and tear made it hard to make out the names on the stones. Sergeant Doug Oberbeck says this type of incident was a first for him.

"We occasionally get calls for missing headstone stones or damaged or stolen headstones,” said Dare County Sergeant Doug Oberbeck. “This will be the first time that I've had to investigate and try to figure out who they belong to and where they need to be. It wasn't immediately apparent whose names were on the stones, so it took a little research."

The deputies did get some help from a book titled "Sacred to their Memory," published by some locals in 1994 that documented the names and location of all the county's gravestones.

Once the deputies determined the names on the gravestones, they turned to social media to find the owners.

A week after the investigation, deputies identified the man responsible.
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