BCSO looking for suspect in Old Sheldon church robbery

BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office is searching for a grave robber who took items from a historic site. It happened last week at the Old Shelton Church in Yemassee.

According to the police report, the thief got away with three crosses that were placed at the top of each Confederate soldier's tombstones. The groundskeeper says he saw the crosses last month when he checked on the property. They were placed there by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and cost about $200 each.

"It's part of the ambiance and heritage of this area. It's part of our history; an important part of our American history. This is one of the Greek classical churches built in the United States, and it has such a rich history, and most people respect it," said groundskeeper Bill Sammons, Old Sheldon Church.

About five years ago, the Sons of Confederate Veterans placed steel crosses on these graves of confederate soldiers, but last week the groundskeeper noticed they were gone.

Now, this is not the first time vandals have struck this site leaving the property manager to question what to do next.

"Families like the McKays were prominent Beaufort families, Fuller was the other one at the Saint Helena Church in Beaufort, there were about 12 of them buried and there are a couple of them here," said Sammons.

The Old Sheldon Church is home to many historical figures in the Lowcountry from doctors and community leaders to confederate soldiers.

"Just like most churches mark their veterans grave and this was for veterans of the Civil War and they were iron crosses and they were mounted on those three grades and removed completely," said Sammons.

Each steel cross cost about $200 dollars, but this isn't the first time property managers have lost money because of vandals. But the owners want this to be a lesson to all.

"Have some respect for the graves for the dead. They're heroes, whether they fought for this side or that side they fought for what they felt was right and they deserve respect for that," said Sammons.

A few years back the owners had to dish about $5,000 to remove spray paint from these walls.

They had to have a curator come all the way from Charleston to clean it up because the bricks are too old and soft to be pressure cleaned.

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