NEWS

Grandson, Friends Charged With Digging Up Grandmother's Grave

04/08/2017 2:48 AM AEST | Updated 04/08/2017 2:48 AM AEST

A large hole was discovered next to the tombstone of Emily Howard and authorities in Kentucky say her grandson and his friend have admitted to unearthing her casket in hopes of collecting valuables.

A passerby found Howard’s coffin in Stacy’s Cemetery exposed, but still closed — investigators believe possibly because the would-be thieves were unable to unlock it.

“When we got here they had definitely dug the grave up until the top of the vault and everything was exposed,” Martin County Sheriff John Kirk told WYMT News.

An investigation was launched and on Tuesday police arrested the deceased woman’s grandson James Howard, 33, of Inez, and his friend Tea Jay Luster, 26, also of Inez.

Police say both men confessed to involvement in the crime.

“They had to be in a bad mindset. Anybody in their right mind I don’t think would’ve been up there digging out a grave ... It’s crazy.” George Jude

James Howard told Luster valuables had been interred with his deceased grandmother 15 years ago, LEX 18 News reported, citing the arrest citation.

A family member said the deceased woman was not buried with any jewelry, WKYT News reported. All that was reportedly buried with her was a porcelain doll and pictures.

Emily Howard’s grandson-in-law George Jude told WSAZ News that the family was devastated when police said a relative had confessed to the crime.

“They had to be in a bad mindset,” Jude said. “Anybody in their right mind I don’t think would’ve been up there digging out a grave. They put in a lot of work. It’s crazy.”

Martin County Sheriffs Office
James Howard, left, Tea Jay Luster and Jennifer Luster have been charged with violating a grave, a felony offense.

The distraught relative implied that drugs could be a possible motive.

“The devil’s got so many people blinded with the drugs and the things that nothing will surprise you, they’ll do anything to get what they want,” Jude told WYMT News.

A third suspect, Jennifer Luster, 35, is accused of driving James Howard and Tea Luster to and from the grave. Tea and Jennifer Luster are reportedly husband and wife.

All three suspects have been charged with violating a grave, a felony offense.

David Lohr covers crime and missing persons. Tips? Feedback? Send an email or follow him on Twitter. 

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