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Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
  • Follow up: Stolen Smyrna grave markers returned

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  • BACKGROUND For the past 20 years, members of the David C. Harrison Post #14 American Legion have placed flags on the gravesites of military personnel. In 2011, the American Legion placed grave markers on the graves as well. When the same members went out before Memorial Day to place more American flags, they discovered the markers at the cemetery on East North Street were gone.
    Faron W. Marshall Sr., Clubroom manager and Veterans Relief Committee member, said at the time that over $2,200 was spent on flags and grave markers. Approximately 60 makers were stolen from the property. That's $600 in stolen property. The grave markers were so expensive because they're made of zinc alloy and aluminum shafts.
    Marshall, along with Post Commander Mike Havel and Sons of the American Legion commander Bill Keplinger, all believed the markers were stolen to make a profit.
    "Our issue is that it's disrespectful," Havel said at the time. "These people paid the ultimate sacrifice to serve our country and we are just trying to honor them."
    Keplinger said the markers were for veterans who fought in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and some date further than that.
    The group didn't file a police report at the time because they had no way of knowing when the markers were stolen. They did, however, want to get the word out for people aware of the issue.
    WHAT'S NEW Even though a police report was never filed, the American Legion got the markers back from Queen Anne's County Office of the Sheriff in Maryland earlier this month.
    Havel said on Nov. 20 while at a ceremony for the new Ambulance Station 64 building, that the markers were returned and suspects were charged in the case.
    "Over 100 grave markers were returned that were placed out by the American Legion and VFW," Havel said.
    A representative from Queen Anne's County sheriff's office said grave markers were recovered on various days earlier this fall.
    The office's public information officer, Ret. Lt. Dale Patrick, said there was a warrant and criminal summons for two individuals from Smyrna for the theft.
    "We've recovered quite a few of those markers," Patrick said. "Some from a recycling company and others from a shoreline where somebody dumped them."
    Patrick said the warrants are for when the markers were sold to the recycling company, which is considered theft since it was stolen property, and not the actual theft of the markers.
    Page 2 of 2 - Patrick said a warrant has been issued for Ivan Benson, 28, of West South Street in Smyrna. Benson has been charged in connection with the incident with four theft cases less than $1,000, two counts of theft scheme, and two counts of conspiracy.
    A criminal summons has been issued for Destiny Guest, 31, also of West South Street in Smyrna, who has been charged with theft less than $1,000, theft scheme less than $1,000, and conspiracy to commit theft.
    Email Jennifer Dailey at jennifer.dailey@doverpost.com.
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