ATHENS, Ohio – A woman accused of sneaking into a cemetery, digging up her former boyfriend's grave and removing an urn that held his ashes pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a felony vandalism charge, prosecutors said.
Martha LaFollete, 48, may have stolen the ashes from New Marshfield Cemetery because she was not invited to Roger Barber's funeral, police said. Barber died in November, Athens County Prosecutor David Warren said.
Authorities believe Barber's grave was broken into around June 17. The tampered grave and theft were discovered on July 1, and the ashes were found several weeks ago at the home of one of LaFollete's relatives in neighboring Perry County, Warren said.
"I have a category of crimes that I like to refer to as 'aggravated stupid,"' he said. "I have been doing this for almost 30 years now and I have never had anyone steal someone's ashes."
A trial was scheduled for Jan. 20 in Athens County Court of Common Pleas, Warren said. If convicted, LaFollete faces a maximum of one year in prison and a $2,500 fine, he said.
A telephone message seeking comment was left with LaFollete's attorney, public defender Myca Haynes.
It was unclear when and for how long LaFollete and Barber were a couple. LaFollete lives in Roseville, about 40 miles north of Athens.
Barber's teenage daughter, Sierra Barber, said she's planning to bury her father's remains — again at the family plot at the cemetery outside Athens — once LaFollete's trial is completed.
"I have to bury my dad and go through it, all over again," she said. "My dad's in an evidence locker. They say 'rest in peace' for a reason."
Athens is about 70 miles southeast of Columbus.