Soldier’s body stolen from grave at family cemetery

Thomas Meadows' open grave as his living family members discovered it on Dec. 27, 2015. Meadows' body, except for the upper portion of his skull, and his casket were missing from the grave. Courtesy photo

Saprina Roark and her family are upset after the body of her great-great-grandfather Thomas Meadows, a Civil War veteran and private in the 36th Virginia Infantry, was dug up and taken from his resting place in a grave at their family cemetery, just after Christmas. His body had been there since his death, in 1921.

According to Rourk, Meadows survived the Civil War and owned hundreds of acres in the Princewick, West Virginia area. He was the great-uncle of WV Gov. Clarence Meadows, who served one term in that office and also two terms as the state’s attorney general.

Roark’s husband Patrick shared that in spite of the remote location of the cemetery people were riding four-wheelers through the ATV trails nearby. “I think it’s a shame,” Patrick said. “You’ve got to be demented in your mind to do something like this. They ought to be tied up to a tree and given 30 lashes.”

Saprina told officers “People are so badly on drugs they’re starting to dig people’s graves up”. “I think they’re getting desperate; they were breaking into people’s homes and now they’re starting to dig up people’s graves.”

A portion of Thomas Meadows' skull is all that Patrick Roark and his son found in the grave. Courtesy photo
A portion of Thomas Meadows’ skull is all that Patrick Roark and his son found in the grave. Courtesy photo

The Raleigh Sheriff’s office investigated but found no evidence to point to a suspect in the incident. The family received permission to fill the grave back in once the investigation was complete.

Saprina suggested the crime was likely motivated by greed; that the robber was probably looking for gold teeth and gold buttons. Sheriff Steve Tanner added that they could be seeking Confederate memorabilia and if Meadows was buried in his uniform it could have “high market value among collectors. They were probably treasure hunters”.

According to Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tom Truman, if they do find the culprit in the case, the penalty for robbing a grave is a determinate sentence of up to five years.

The investigation is ongoing.

© 2015 Bright Mountain Media, Inc.

All rights reserved. The content of this webpage may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written consent of Bright Mountain Media, Inc. which may be contacted at


  • Penny M. Polokoff-Kreps earned her BA in Sociology from Queens College of the City University of New York. She is a published author, speaker, FL Supreme Court mediator, and a Guardian ad Litem. She runs a non-profit with her husband, a Vietnam veteran, providing nutritional supplements for veteran cancer survivors, and supporting veterans in obtaining service dogs. She is passionate about veteran's issues especially those related to PTSD and mental health.

Post navigation