Deputies: Military Plates Stolen off Graves

By: Donnitra Gilbert Email
By: Donnitra Gilbert Email

Thomas County, GA -- October 27, 2011

More than 10 bronze military plates were stolen from this cemetery that sits behind a Thomas County church.

"These people fought for your rights. That doesn't mean they fought for you to have the right to go and steal," says Barbara Benton.

Benton's husband, Billy James Benton, served in the Vietnam War and died three years ago. Twice a week she comes to visit his grave.

Benton says the plaque was placed on the grave, but deputies tell me the thieves had to pry it up just to remove it.

Now, deputies have arrested William and Jessica Griffin along with Travis Kirkland. They're charged with felony theft by taking.

"We also received a phone call from another county that they had a salvage yard call them and say they had some suspicious-looking plates that had been sold to them by people in our area," says Thomas County Sheriff's Captain Steve Jones.

Investigators say the three defaced the metal plates, cut them up and then tried to scrape off the names on them -- a move Billy's widow calls disgusting.

"Taxpayers have to replace all these and they cost a good deal of money," says Benton.

She says she's hurt that people would stoop so low and bother her husband's grave while he rests in peace.

Jessica Griffin has bonded out. Last we checked William Griffin and Travis Kirkland were still behind bars

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