JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Once a month, Bobbie Hindman tends to the gravesite of her uncle, a World War I veteran who died 56 years ago.
Claud Hindman received a bronze-plated monument denoting his service, but his niece discovered it missing from the Strawfloor Cemetery while recently paying her respects.
"It makes me feel better just to go out there and know that they're there and everything," Bobbie Hindman said. "When I went out there and found out his tombstone was gone, I was disappointed. I really wanted to cry, and I thought that wouldn't do no good. That won't bring it back."
Hindman says she could see where someone dug out the tombstone with a shovel. She reported the theft to the Jonesboro Police Department and suggested it must have occurred sometime between March 1 and April 12.
An officer searched the surrounding area but found nothing. The officer, however, validated Hindman's claim that where the gravestone was located appeared to be dug up.
"I think it's mean," said Sgt. Lyle Waterworth with Jonesboro Police. "That's just all there is to it. That's someone's final resting place."
Waterworth says local police have worked few of these incidents, but police regularly patrol local cemeteries. The City of Jonesboro has an ordinance that prohibits people from being in graveyards after dark.
None can determine exactly when or what time Claud Hindman's tombstone was stolen, but its bronze plate may have been the target. Waterworth is uncertain about the resale value of bronze, but he insists that local recyclers would have contacted police had they come across the suspect item.
"He was a goodhearted person," Hindman said, reminiscing about her uncle. "I lived by myself on Main Street, and he would come up and spend the night with me. Then, he'd get up the morning to leave, and he'd always leave me five or 10 dollars."
Memories like these make Hindman believe she was his favorite, but they also push her to plead to whomever took the tombstone to just give it back.
"Oh, it would make me feel good to know it's back," she said, "then I could continue putting my flowers out. His flag's still out there I put out. He was in the service. Everything else is just gone."
Anyone with information about the theft should call the Crimestoppers tip line at 870-935-STOP.