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Second man arrested in crypt-tampering case at Rosedale Cemetery

Richard Rowland Ruffner of Martinsburg faces 23 counts of disinterment of a dead body and one count of destruction of property

July 29, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • Ruffner
Ruffner

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A second man has been arrested in a crypt-tampering case at Rosedale Cemetery near Martinsburg.

Richard Rowland Ruffner, 29, of 818 Near Bethels Way, Martinsburg, was arraigned Sunday by Berkeley County Magistrate JoAnn Overington on 23 counts of disinterment of a dead body and one count of destruction of property, according to magistrate court records.

Ruffner was being held in Eastern Regional Jail Monday night on $470,000 bond, according to jail and court records.

His arrest comes after police said David P. Bowers III of Hedgesville, W.Va., told authorities that he helped Ruffner and a third, unidentified male open crypts from a mausoleum in the cemetery and take jewelry from the bodies, court records said.

Bowers was arraigned last week on single felony counts of destruction of property and disinterment or displacement of a dead body. He was still incarcerated at Eastern Regional Jail on Monday night, according to jail records.

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State police reported in May that it appeared that 50 to 60 crypts had been tampered with between Rosedale and Pleasant View cemeteries in Berkeley County.

Damage to the two mausoleums in Rosedale Cemetery was reported to police on May 12. State police said they responded to Pleasant View on May 14 to investigate damage to mausoleum buildings there.

Bowers told police the men used screwdrivers to open the crypts at Rosedale at the newer of the two mausoleums and pulled the caskets out, according to a complaint filed against the defendants by Trooper Z.S. Conner of the West Virginia State Police.

Bowers said Ruffner used a clothes hanger to get the jewelry from within the caskets, the complaint said.

Bowers said the jewelry was taken to Martinsburg Mall to exchange it at a “cash for gold” business there, Conner said.

The trooper said he was told the total cost of the casket replacement at Rosedale Cemetery due to the property destruction was $39,595.

Bowers said Ruffner discarded two rubber gloves used in the theft at one of the crypts after tampering with it, Conner said. A third glove, a hammer and a screwdriver also were recovered by police at the scene, Conner said in the complaint.

A Mountain Dew can and a cigarette butt also was documented as evidence, the complaint said.

Conner said Bowers gave his statement about the crypt tampering while under arrest for prior felony charges, the court documents said.

In the burglary case, Trooper D.W. Satterfield said in a separate complaint that the defendant was implicated by another man in the theft of multiple televisions and bottles of alcohol from a man’s “vacation home” in the 900 block of Walden Drive in Berkeley County.

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