FELICA BATCHELOR

Two Texas County residents are charged with felonies in a rash of thefts from cemeteries, the Texas County Sheriff’s Department said Monday. As many as 30 concrete angels and other items disappeared from plots.

William T. Hebert, 30, of 611 Hawthorne Street in Houston, and Felicia Batchelor, 29, of 21931 Scenic Road, in Summersville, are each charged with stealing over $500 and less than $25,000 following their arrest last Thursday.

Texas County Sheriff James Sigman said the case began when several calls came in from people reporting thefts from cemeteries across the county. By the time the investigation was complete, thefts from seven cemeteries and numerous gravesites were linked.

According to probable cause statements submitted by county authorities to the county prosecutor, a call was received in early May from a second-hand store in Cabool indicating items had been purchased from a man and woman that might have been related to the case. The store eventually reported that Hebert sold suspicious items there on May 2, 3 and 5.

During questioning, Hebert and Batchelor reportedly confessed to swiping as many as 30 concrete angels, along with several concrete benches, plant containers and other decorative items.

“This is kind of like breaking into a church,” Sigman said. “There are a couple of crimes I have a hard time wrapping my mind around – like when you break into a church or steal from a cemetery. I just have a hard time comprehending people doing that.

“All crimes are bad, but it’s hard to understand what puts people into that mode. Then again, why would you steal from your neighbor?”

Sigman said four deputies were at some point involved in the investigation. Many of the items were recovered from the second-hand store, and once word of the case surfaced, ownership there was able to buy back some of the goods so they could be returned to their rightful locations.

After a grand jury indictment was filed on Tuesday of last week (July 26), Texas County Prosecuting Attorney Parke Stevens Jr. issued a warrant for the arrest of Hebert and Batchelor. They were apprehended at a friend’s house in Houston on July 28 by a Houston Police Department officer who had been advised they were there.

They are each in the Texas County Jail on $150,000 bond.

Sigman said he was impressed by the job officers did in putting together many puzzle pieces to solve the case.

“It was a lot of work,” he said, “but they stayed after it and did a good job. This was one of those cases that we knew from the beginning was going to be hard to put together because of where the thefts occurred. Cemeteries aren’t places that are visited often – especially the country cemeteries where a lot of the stuff came from.”

“There are a couple of crimes I have a hard time wrapping my mind around – like when you break into a church or steal from a cemetery. I just have a hard time comprehending people doing that.”

-SHERIFF JAMES SIGMAN

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