Valdez men charged with digging up grave

Posted: Monday, June 26, 2000

VALDEZ (AP) -- Four Valdez men were charged last week with digging up the grave of a pioneer buried in the Old Valdez Cemetery.

Robert Michaud, 20, Cameron Harrison, 19, Ian Herrmann, 19, and Keith Markham, 20 were charged with misconduct involving a corpse.

If found guilty, the men could face a $5,000 fine and a year in jail.

Valdez police contacted the four after receiving information from an anonymous source.

According to charging documents Harrison, Michaud and Markham started digging the grave last year and all four recently went back to the site and dug more.

Volunteers noticed that the grave had been unearthed when they arrived for a day of cleaning up brush on June 3.

The grave is that of James Howell, an early miner who arrived in Valdez in 1898, said Gail Colby, who found the disturbed grave.

Howell was born in 1845 in Howell's Prairie, Ore. He died on June 2, 1916. The cemetery was used from the 1890s until 1917.

The casket was damaged in the incident, said Valdez Police Sgt. Bill Comer. Comer would not say if anything was taken from the casket and would not comment on a possible motive.

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