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Police: Rash Of Cemetery Crimes Solved In Westmoreland Co.

(Source: Armstrong County Jail)

(Source: Armstrong County Jail)

Ralph Iannotti Ralph Iannotti
Ralph Iannotti began working as a KDKA-TV general assignment reporter...
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LOWER BURRELL (KDKA) — Police in Westmoreland County say they’ve solved a recent string of thefts at the Greenwood Cemetery in Lower Burrell.

In the past few weeks, more than 100 brass vases, worth an estimated $750 apiece, have been stolen from gravesites at the sprawling cemetery.

Charged with theft and receiving stolen property are 27-year-old Daniel Toy of Kittanning and 28-year-old Brandi Jo Verner of Vandergrift.

A third person was also part of the alleged burglary ring, 20-year-old Zechariah Berger of Lancaster. Police say he’ll be charged once he gets out of a drug rehab facility.

At the Greenwood Cemetery, people were outraged by the thefts.

Merchant Baker, Jr., of Murrysville, who was tending the gravesite of relatives with his wife, called the thefts “a disgrace, a big disgrace.”

Charlotte Hicks, who now lives in Florida, was checking on the graves of her relatives Friday evening to make sure nothing had been disturbed.

“I’m horrified that somebody would steal from the dead, to know that someone has desecrated a grave is terrible,” Hicks said.

According to court documents, Verner allegedly admitted to stealing the vases, claiming that she and either Toy or Berger visited Greenwood Cemetery on at least five separate occasions.

The trio would then bring the expensive vases to a scrap metal yard in Templeton, Armstrong County, to sell them for cash. Then, authorities say they would split the money to buy heroin.

Police estimated the total value of the missing vases at close to $89,000.

RELATED LINKS:
More Lower Burrell News
More Westmoreland County News
More Reports by Ralph Iannotti

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