An investigation into the theft of brass grave markers from two cemeteries led to the arrest of a Jefferson County man Thursday afternoon.
Harold Matson Law, 44, originally was arrested in connection with the thefts on April 4 but was released pending further investigation, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department Major Lafayette Woods Jr., said in a press release Friday afternoon.
Law, who listed a Redfield address, was released after investigators learned that other individuals allegedly were involved in the theft of the brass grave markers, which were taken from Graceland Cemetery and P.K. Miller Cemetery, and were valued at $1,800 each.
Initially, it was believed that 11 grave markers were taken, but it was later determined that the actual number was nine.
Woods said the initial investigation began on March 20 when an employee of K&K Salvage at 8221 Princeton Pike became suspicious about Law trying to sell grave markers. Law allegedly told the employee he had been given the grave markers as payment for work he had done for another person.
An employee at the salvage yard searched the Internet for the names that appeared on some of the markers and discovered that some of them were military veterans who had been buried at Graceland Cemetery in Pine Bluff.
Sgt. Mickey Buffkin said in a probable-cause affidavit that Law had gone to the business five times over the course of three to four weeks and sold the grave markers. Investigators were given copies of the receipts including pictures showing a white male later identified as Law selling the markers, Buffkin said.
In the probable-cause affidavit, Buffkin said Law and another person who was not identified went to the cemetery on several occasions and that Law was present when the other person pried the markers from the concrete headstones. Law then went to K&K where he sold the markers, Buffkin said.
In addition to the value of the markers, Buffkin said in the affidavit that the estimated cost to replace the markers was $20,700.
All nine grave markers were recovered, and Buffkin said in the affidavit that they were returned to cemetery personnel.
After a court appearance Friday, Jefferson County District Judge Kim Bridgforth ruled that prosecutors had probable cause to charge Law with nine counts of destruction or removal of a cemetery or grave marker, a Class C felony, and nine counts of theft of property, a Class B felony.
At the request of Deputy Prosecutor Maxie Kizer, Bridgforth set a $25,000 bond for Law, who Kizer said has “an extensive criminal history,” including convictions in Arkansas and several other states.
Law will remain in jail until he posts the bond, Woods said.
The Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent Law, and he was told to come back to court May 31.