CARROLL COUNTY, Ga -- There is nothing more sacred than the dead. That's why several victims of theft are appalled to find out someone was stealing from their loved one's graves.
Carroll County Sheriff investigators arrested Eleanor Ashley, 55, and charged her with six counts of Theft by Taking. Investigators said she was stealing flower arrangements from graves and re-selling them for profit.
"Putting flowers on a loved one's grave after they've passed and then actually going back and finding out that they're missing, it infuriates people," said Carroll County Chief Deputy Brad Robinson.
Judy Simonton was replacing flowers that were missing from her father's grave in Carrollton City Cemetery Tuesday. She didn't think much of it until she learned that Ashley had been arrested. "You come to a cemetery and leave flowers for people you loved and how anybody can be so heartless to just go and take something that you've left, I just don't understand how anybody could do that," she said.
Carroll County Sheriff investigators received numerous complaints from people who had placed flowers on graves, only to have them disappear. That led them to Ashley's home on Bowdon Junction Road. "She was actually selling them (flowers) from her yard and it kind of became known that she was one in the neighborhood that you could purchase flowers from," Chief Deputy Robinson said. He said they were buying them for their families graves.
Robinson said the people who bought flowers from Ashley had no idea they were stolen.
"We put her under surveillance and on one particular day following her, she visited six cemeteries and actually took flowers from two of those," Robinson said. "At that point we went ahead and made the arrest."
Robinson said they have received at least 75 complaints from people who lost flowers from grave sites and the complaints keep coming in daily.