Woman Arrested After Admitting To Stealing Veteran's Headstones, Using Them For Fire Pit
ALUM CREEK, W.Va. -- A bizarre cemetery theft case lands a woman in jail and a family thankful they were able to get their loved one's headstones returned.
When a family reached out to Eyewitness News for help in getting the word out about the stolen headstones, they never dreamed how the case would really turn out.
Penny Snodgrass, 54, of South Charleston is facing a long list of charges after police say she confessed to stealing headstones and grave decorations of veterans from Brounland Cemetery in Alum Creek.
Snodgrass lives alone at the top of a driveway along Brounland Road. A plywood sign is nailed to a tree at the bottom calling the property "The Cemetary" and warns off trespassers.
"There is no phone number from where I'm from," she told a magistrate after being taken into custody Thursday night.
A viewer saw the family's story on Eyewitness News on Wednesday and contacted them letting them know where they may be able to find the stolen items. They had noticed many flags and other items like concrete angels and hanging baskets being used as decorations at the foot of Snodgrass' driveway that they didn't believe belonged to her.
The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office was investigating the theft, but a state trooper happened to be driving down Brounland Road Thursday night and was flagged down by one of the family members who had the headstones stolen. He informed them of what the caller and told them.
Troopers drove up the driveway and say they found the headstones being used to surround a fire pit, grave ornaments were being burned, and there was also a burn pile of DOH stop and street signs.
Jamie Wilson says he was stunned how quickly the word got out and his grandparents headstones were found and are now in process of being put back in their place.
"If you would have asked me the day that it happened, I would have had no sympathy but I could blatantly tell by seeing her on the news that she has some serious issues she needs to work out with herself. I think somewhere along the line, Adult Protective Services needs to get involved and maybe get her some kind of help or some sort of guidance," Wilson said.
Neighbors told Eyewitness News that Snodgrass is mentally ill and has a history of drug abuse. They say about a year ago, she set her home and a garage on fire on the property and was now living in a plywood shed.
The property is covered with numerous burn piles and garbage, along with lawn and grave decorations. The burned out buildings are covered in bizarre drawings and words.
A magistrate's assistant asked Snodgrass if she was married. "Yes, I'm married to Jesus Christ. I made a covenant with Christ," she said.
"Do you have any children?" the assistant asked.
"I'm sure he does," she said. "Do you pay any bills monthly?" "I pay with my life everyday," Snodgrass said.
Snodgrass is charged with grand larceny, petit larceny, unlawful disposal of litter, having an open dump, and removal of grave markers.
Neighbors say she has constantly been throwing hundreds of pounds of trash on their property. They also say she's threatened to burn other homes down and sometimes becomes violent.
"After speaking with the neighborhood, everyone is fed up with her and now in addition to just the nuisance issues, she's stolen grave markers from veterans, as well as just people within the community," said Sgt. Larry O'Bryan.
"I appreciate everybody that came together and the member of the community that made that call," Wilson said,
Neighbors and the Wilson family say they hope she can receive mental help.
She is being held on a $75,000 bond.