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Two century-old graves in an old family cemetery off Old River Road South were found desecrated, and Bulloch County Sheriff’s investigators hope someone will step forward with information about who committed the crime.
Zach Grizzard has owned the property where the graveyard is located for a dozen years. He hasn’t visited the cemetery in several months, but during a recent visit he discovered someone dug into two graves, possibly in search of valuables.
“They are behind an old grain silo, hidden in the woods,” he said. “Somebody was either snooping and discovered them or knew they were there.”
The property where he lives is “pretty old,” he said. The oldest grave is dated 1802 and the last one, a child’s grave, was placed in 1912.
The land was originally owned by a woman named Fonnie Knight, “who lived there quite a while until her husband died,” Grizzard said. Then the land was used as a hunting club for some time before a man named Thomas Knight sold the land in parcels.
A house was built on the parcel where the graveyard was located, and was there about a year before the Grizzards moved in, he said.
Most of the graves bear the “Simmons” family name. One of the desecrated graves bears the name “Alice Brannen Simmons.” Grizzard said the site contains graves of at least two couples, an adult daughter, an adult son and two
On Tuesday, when Grizzard discovered the disturbing evidence that someone apparently intentionally dug into the graves, deputies responded to the location and “noted that two headstones had been moved from the graves and also noted what appeared to be holes dug into the burial sites,” said Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson.
“The graves dated from the late 1800s, but the damage occurred within the past year, according to the land owner,” Anderson said.
Because of the age of the graves and lack of information on the burials of the people in the graves, “it is unclear at this time whether or not any items were removed from the sites,” he said. “Unfortunately, the holes dug into the graves might indicate an attempted theft of bones or valuables buried with the deceased.”
According to Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) 31-21-44, anyone who disturbs a grave for reasons of theft of otherwise can be punished for up to five years, Anderson said.
Anyone with information on the person or persons responsible for the desecration of these graves should contact Inv. Walter Deal at (912) 764-8888, or email a confidential tip to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.