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Hedgesville, W.Va., man faces crypt-tampering and destruction of property charges

August 02, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Hedgesville, W.Va., man faces additional crypt-tampering and destruction of property charges in connection with damage reported at a second Berkeley County cemetery, according to court records and police.

Warrants issued Wednesday in Berkeley County Magistrate court charged David P. Bowers III with 10 counts of disinterment of a dead body and one count of destruction of property, according to court records.

Bowers, 24, was arraigned last week on single felony counts of destruction of property and disinterment or displacement of a dead body stemming from a crypt-tampering case at Rosedale Cemetery near Martinsburg.

A preliminary hearing set for Wednesday for the case was delayed, the court records said.

A preliminary hearing for Richard Rowland Ruffner, a co-defendant in the Rosedale Cemetery case, is set for Tuesday, records said.

Ruffner, 29, of Martinsburg, was arraigned Sunday on 23 counts of disinterment of a dead body and one count of destruction of property,  records said.

Both men were incarcerated in Eastern Regional Jail Friday night, according to jail records.

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.

West Virginia State Trooper R.D. Eshbaugh, who requested the warrants for Bowers in the Pleasant View Cemetery case, responded to investigate damage there on May 14, according to police and court records.

Police said that a caretaker at Pleasant View Cemetery, which is off Charles Town Road, pointed out damage at mausoleum buildings on the south side of the property.

The ensuing investigation revealed that about 50 crypts had been tampered with, and suspects had removed granite plates and the caskets, which appeared to have been opened, police said.

The caskets were then placed back into the crypts, and the granite plates were resecured, police said.

In the Rosedale Cemetery case, Bowers 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 alleged that Ruffner used a clothes hanger to get the jewelry from within the caskets, and the jewelry was taken to Martinsburg Mall to exchange it at a “cash for gold” business, records said.

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