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October 18, 2013

Cullman man indicted for desecrating family grave site

A Cullman man was indicted Wednesday for desecrating a family grave site after he allegedly removed tombstones and had a family burial plot bulldozed after purchasing property in Spring Hill five months ago.

Jonathan Allen Daugherty, 24, of Cullman, was arrested on May 28 after the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office received a report stating a family burial plot had been destroyed, Maj. Scott Clay said. Daugherty had allegedly removed the grave stones and tossed them aside in a nearby wooded area.

“Daugherty was informed when he bought the property that it included a family cemetery,” Clay said. “He was shown before the purchase was made that it had the Spitznagel family buried there.”

The former Spitznagel property is located on County Road 401 in Spring Hill. Two Spitznagel family member’s tombstones were recovered from the site who passed away between 1880-1989, but it was not confirmed how many family members were buried there.

“Myself and investigator Corey Freeman went to the property and recovered some of the tombstones that had been pushed up and then taken to the edge of the property line, which was really grown up,” Clay said. “The bulldozer operator wasn’t aware that the land included a cemetery, the tombstones were removed prior to him getting there to bulldoze the land.”

Daugherty posted a $5,000 bond at the Cullman County Detention Center.

Desecration of a grave is a Class-A misdemeanor. If convicted, he faces up to one year in jail or $6,000 in fines.

Alabama penal law states: Any person who willfully or maliciously injures, defaces, removes or destroys any tomb, monument, gravestone or other memorial of the dead, or any fence or any inclosure about any tomb, monument, gravestone or memorial, or who willfully and wrongfully destroys, removes, cuts, breaks or injures any tree, shrub, plant, flower, decoration, or other real or personal property within any cemetery or graveyard shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Lauren Estes can be reached at laurene@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.

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