A private cemetery in Middleburg was vandalized Wednesday, the family finding the remains of a baby taken from her smashed crypt, the Clay County Sheriff’ Office said.
A Middleburg family made a grisly discovery the day before Halloween at their private cemetery: the remains of a stillborn baby pulled from a grave and left in the dirt among other shattered and tipped-over headstones.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office is searching for whoever desecrated the Forman Community Cemetery on Thistle Court in Middleburg, along with other damage.
“The desecration of a grave is a second-degree felony and a personal offense to me as the sheriff of our county,” Sheriff Darryl Daniels said. “I will exhaust every resource to find out who perpetrated this crime and will follow this case to its conclusion in court.”
Maude Jackson and her sons were at the cemetery just west of Blanding Boulevard at 11 a.m. Wednesday to visit a grave when they saw family members’ gravestones had been smashed or toppled. Then they spotted the baby, buried in 2007, lying in the dirt near the smashed-open grave, the report said.
“She was just like a little doll, a little chocolate doll,” Carlton Jaushlin told Times-Union news partner First Coast News of his niece. “And then I looked over inside her grave and it’s been busted open and they just left her body. ... What kind of a person can do this and sleep well at night?”
The family called the Sheriff’s Office, which spent hours on scene before handing the case over to the Special Victims Unit for more work, the report said.
“Detectives will go back and re-canvas the neighborhood, probably expand that canvas out,” Lt. Jeremy Clark said. “We are looking for cameras. We are looking for witnesses. We are looking for anything suspicious that anybody might have seen.
Clark called the cemetery vandalism rare for the county and community, and added the investigation will also look for DNA evidence left behind by the vandals.
The Sheriff’s Office also said it is unclear if the remains were “disturbed by an animal or a person due to the grave being shallow.”
The Sheriff’s Office issued a video report that shows the damage and includes more with Clark at bit.ly/2oyWYcl.
This story originally published to jacksonville.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network via the Florida Wire. The Florida Wire, which runs across digital, print and video platforms, curates and distributes Florida-focused stories. For more Florida stories, visit here, and to support local media throughout the state of Florida, consider subscribing to your local paper.