Ancient cemetery report complete - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Ancient cemetery report complete

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April 12, 2006

Albany -- Sheriff's Investigators have completed their report into a cemetery being plowed under on a Western Dougherty County plantation. Investigators say Ecila Plantation workers admit they plowed under centuries-old headstones and markers.

Now the District Attorney will decide if criminal charges will be filed.

Sheriff's Investigators obtained photos they say show Ecila Plantation employees plowing under the cemetery. They were taken in April or May 2003, and show the tractor. In some shots you can see what's left of headstones,markers, and concrete slabs after the brush was cut away.

Sheriff's Lt. Craig Dodd said, "The two grave stones that we found, one of them was dated 1863, and the other was dated 1853."

Sheriff's Investigators started looking into the cemetery disturbance in February, when people complained. Investigators say the Ecila Plantation Manager admitted harrowing up the cemetery. "At the time he was not familiar with that cemetery being there, is what he stated. They did not discover it until they were well into cleaning up the area," Dodd said.

Dodd says so far no family members have stepped forward, saying their relatives were buried in that cemetery. Now the pictures and the investigation report will be turned over to District Attorney Ken Hodges' office.

Under Georgia, law disturbing a cemetery is a felony, punishable by jail time and a five thousand dollar fine per headstone disturbed. "That will be up to the District Attorney's office, whether or not they choose to or determine to present it to a Grand Jury or to go civilly with it," Dodd said.

Sheriff's Investigators say the Ecila Plantation employees cooperated with the investigation, and have saved what is left of the headstones. Investigators say the manager says they only harrowed the top of the ground so they did not disturb any human remains, just the stones and markers.

District Attorney Ken Hodges said he will review the case and has not made any decisions on it yet.

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