Stolen Tombstone!

The Tombstone on the day Gina stole it from the cemetery:

The Tombstone in 1998

 

Tombstone of Kissibe Ann Allred
8/18/1849 - 5/31/1851

Stolen from Billy Trogdon Cemetery

Note:  The East Coast Allred Family Association (ECAFA) is no longer an active organization except for a few meetings of the 4 person  Board of Directors, held without announcement, members are not notified or invited to attend and minutes are not published.    

Unbelievably, on September 11, 2020, as if proud of the theft, Gina Morton Smith posted a photo of herself boxing up the tombstone to remove it from the cemetery.   Per the post found on the East Coast Allred Family Organization Facebook page, Gina announced she was taking the tombstone to protect it.  She stated:

"We removed the pieces of a tombstone that was destroyed years ago when a tree grew up through it in anticipation of blowing the leaves off the cemetery." 

The grave was left unmarked.  This tombstone has been in the cemetery since 1851 and, although over time it had fallen and broke in several pieces, it was in no danger until it was boxed up and taken illegally from the cemetery.   Yes, as you can see from the photos it was slowly decaying, it was doing so naturally without contamination from human hands as are all of the tombstones in the cemetery.  Now it is gone.  Gina was contacted and told removing a tombstone and desecrating a grave is illegal, a Class 1 Felony in North Carolina, but as of this posting the tombstone has not been returned.    Although Gina claims the tombstone needed to be protected from "blowing leaves off the cemetery", as you can see from the photos below, it would have been very easy to simply rake or blow around the tombstone.  At most, the tombstone could have been temporarily moved while leaves were removed.  Question:  if blowing leaves will damage one tombstone - won't it damage all of them?   Taking that tombstone from the cemetery, leaving the grave unmarked, was not necessary.  Since 1851 there have been many, many storms and that tombstone survived yet Gina felt "blowing leaves" would destroy it.  In addition we, Friends of the Cemetery, now wonder how - if Gina truly plans to return the tombstone - how she will know where the grave is located so the tombstone can to returned to the proper place.   Or is the tombstone destined to remain in a box on a shelf in a storage room or, worse, tossed in the trash never to be seen again and this baby's grave left unmarked and in danger of being forgotten in time.

In addition to stealing this tombstone, by removing the natural ground covering (leaves, periwinkle, etc.) Gina and the ECAFA are removing Nature's protection of those ancient graves.  The cemetery is on a sloping hill-side and the ground covering helps prevent the ground from being washed away every time it rains.    Although the ECAFA and Gina claim to want to preserve and protect the cemetery, this proves to us they are actually working to endanger and destroy this ancient cemetery and the graves of our ancestors.  

Note:  Per the Facebook post, only the ECAFA Board Members attended this work day.  Friends of the Cemetery visited the cemetery since that post (Click here to see photos taken during that visit) and saw no signs of clean-up or tree removal although one photo clearly showed a Board member holding a chain saw.  That apparently was a staged photo-op.  No ECAFA members were notified or invited to attend or told of the activities before or after the event.  Sadly, ECAFA members have not been invited or included in any meetings or activities since 2017.  However, the newly formed and growing Friends of the Cemetery is active, visiting the cemetery, continuing the research, meeting online during the pandemic, with activities planned for the upcoming months.  For more information about Friends of the Cemetery, contact Linda or Jean.

You can email Gina Morton Smith to express your dismay over the theft of the tombstone at ginamortonsmith@yahoo.com 


Note:  To our knowledge, leaves have never been blown off the cemetery and as of this posting, no leaves have been blown off the cemetery.  Removing the leaves removes the natural ground covering that protects the soil from washing down hill when it rains, thereby endangering the graves and fragile tombstones.  In our opinion, removing the tombstone was unnecessary and blowing leaves, especially since it has never been done and still has not been done, is not "ordinary maintenance and care of a cemetery" as stated in the statute.

Definition of a Class 1 Felony per North Carolina State Law:

§ 15A-1340.23.  Punishment limits for each class of offense and prior conviction level.

(a)        Offense Classification; Default Classifications. - The offense classification is as specified in the offense for which the sentence is being imposed. If the offense is a misdemeanor for which there is no classification, it is as classified in G.S. 14-3.

(b)        Fines. - Any judgment that includes a sentence of imprisonment may also include a fine. Additionally, when the defendant is other than an individual, the judgment may consist of a fine only. If a community punishment is authorized, the judgment may consist of a fine only. Unless otherwise provided for a specific offense, the maximum fine that may be imposed is two hundred dollars ($200.00) for a Class 3 misdemeanor and one thousand dollars ($1,000) for a Class 2 misdemeanor. The amount of the fine for a Class 1 misdemeanor and a Class A1 misdemeanor is in the discretion of the court.

(c)        Punishment for Each Class of Offense and Prior Conviction Level; Punishment Chart Described. - Unless otherwise provided for a specific offense, the authorized punishment for each class of offense and prior conviction level is as specified in the chart below. Prior conviction levels are indicated by the Roman numerals placed horizontally on the top of the chart. Classes of offenses are indicated by the Arabic numbers placed vertically on the left side of the chart. Each grid on the chart contains the following components:

(1)        A sentence disposition or dispositions: "C" indicates that a community punishment is authorized; "I" indicates that an intermediate punishment is authorized; and "A" indicates that an active punishment is authorized; and

(2)        A range of durations for the sentence of imprisonment: any sentence within the duration specified is permitted.

(d)       Fine Only for Certain Class 3 Misdemeanors. - Unless otherwise provided for a specific offense, the judgment for a person convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor who has no more than three prior convictions shall consist only of a fine.  (1993, c. 538, s. 1; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(b); 1995, c. 507, s. 19.5(g); 2013-360, s. 18B.13(a).)