100-year-old human remains stolen from a crypt in Colorado

Human remains interred about 100 years ago were stolen from a private family mausoleum at a cemetery in Colorado, and an investigation into the incident is underway, officials said.

Deputies with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to Crown Hill Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, Colo., about 7:20 Wednesday morning after an employee who had just arrived for work noticed some damage to a private mausoleum, said Jacki Kelley, a public information officer with the county Sheriff’s Office in Golden, Colo.

An initial investigation showed the front of the crypt had “severe damage,” according to a news release. Police said it appeared the perpetrators “entered the cemetery during the overnight hours, forced entry into the crypt and gained access to the casket.”

“The casket, that housed the decedent’s remains, had been pried open and portions of the body were removed,” authorities said in a statement.

The damage to the mausoleum is estimated to be around $30,000, officials said.

The mausoleum belongs to a family and contains three crypts, Kelley said. Only the center crypt was disturbed, she said. No other incidents were reported elsewhere in that cemetery or others nearby.

Authorities declined to identify the remains or the family to whom the mausoleum belonged, saying authorities were trying to locate current relatives. The burials date to the early 20th century, Kim said.

Police had not yet made any arrests in the case Thursday morning. Investigators collected evidence at the scene and were looking into security footage, Kelley said.

A representative for Crown Hill Cemetery did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Kelley said the case could bring several felony charges, including abuse of a corpse, criminal mischief and third-degree burglary. There could be an additional theft charge if other items were stolen from the casket. Early Thursday, it wasn’t yet clear if that was the case.

Anyone with information about this crime is urged to contact the Jefferson County tip line at (303) 271-5612.

Though macabre, theft of human remains and other artifacts from cemeteries does happen. Two men were incarcerated for stealing human skulls from a cemetery in central Florida in 2021, according to local reports, which said the body parts were intended for use in black magic rituals.

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