Two elderly Missouri men, both 73, were detained on Wednesday for allegedly trying to dig up the grave of one of the men’s grandparents.
Jimmie Allen and Zebulun Nash were detained on charges of desecrating a cemetery.
Upon their arrival on the 22nd of August, police reportedly found Allen digging a hole as Nash stood nearby, covered in dirt and talking on the phone. While Nash said he and his buddies spent the previous days digging out his grandmother’s remains to rebury them, Allen told authorities he did most of the digging.
Since 2009, Amazing Grace LLC has asserted control of the primarily African-American cemetery.
Authorities first detained the men but released them after considering their senior age and the scorching conditions outside. Nash will have a plea hearing on December 12, but the facts of Allen’s summons remain unknown.
For 103 years, the cemetery has been there for the local Black population. The cemetery has been owned by Kevin Bailey’s company, Amazing Grace Enterprises LLC, since 2009.
Dan Newman, a longtime volunteer at the cemetery, said that Nash wanted to relocate his grandmother to a smaller Catholic cemetery in Hazelwood.
In 1964, “he was quite close to his grandmother, and he wanted her to be buried with the rest of the family,” Newman said.
Amazing Grace Enterprises’ lawyer, Craig Smith, expressed shock that his clients had been charged with a crime after they had taken all the necessary precautions to remove the woman’s body.
Nash spent $30,000 to have a removal agency and funeral home transfer the bodies of four members of his family.
While the movers could locate three of Nash’s cousins, his grandmother was not found. When the removal crew left, Nash excavated the cemetery himself.
It’s “pretty amazing” that they would charge them, Smith told reporters on Thursday.
“This isn’t some schmuck using a shovel to bury his mother. Maybe something got lost in translation.”