Tow Ops Find Graverobber’s Haul
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Markers Stolen from Veterans’ Headstones
TULSA, Okla. l A man arrested for possession of a stolen car earlier this month is now suspected of defacing the graves of several military veterans after a discovery was made at an Oklahoma tow shop. The vehicle the suspect was driving reportedly contained five bronze markers removed from cemetery headstones.
Brandon Earl Powell, 28, was arrested on March 14, pulled over by police while driving a stolen 1995 Dodge Dakota. An area car dealership had reported the vehicle missing on Feb. 13.
The dispatch to recover the stolen truck went to Stoney Wrecker, an institution in Tulsa since 1960. The Dakota had a small trailer attached, both of which were transported to their yard. The team there noticed something among the contents that looked out of order – something that had been overlooked by the arresting officers.
Five bronze markers with the names of former servicemen were stacked in the vehicle, apparently pried from their headstones at Tulsa’s Memorial Park Cemetery.
The markers were each for Army veterans who had served in conflicts ranging from World War II to Vietnam and the Korean War.
The find was brought to the attention of Wayne Pierce, general manager for Stoney Wrecker. After some friends and staff members who were veterans were consulted – and after Pierce did a bit more digging – a phone call was placed to notify the authorities.
A call was also made to the Tulsa office for Veterans Affairs. As a result, the markers have been collected and shipped to Washington. They will be replaced.
“We love our firemen and our policemen and our vets,” Pierce said, speaking with the Tulsa World. He went on to call the defacing of veteran graves as “one of those things you just don’t do.”
Powell was on probation at the time of his arrest, having been convicted on a 2010 narcotics distribution charge that earned him an eight-year sentence, deferred. He is currently being held on a $9,000 bond at the Tulsa county jail.
The servicemen whose markers were removed included Fred A. Moore, Larry James White, Robert Lee Hill, Lueverdis Cary Taylor and LeRon Grant.
Police are currently investigating to determine how Powell might have come into possession of the markers. Additional charges may be filed.
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