Published January 13, 2015
Texas police arrested a man accused of vandalizing the gravesite of a Marine killed in Iraq to sell parts of floral arrangements left in his memory.
Lance Cpl. Jeremy Burris, 22, of Liberty, Texas, was killed in Iraq on Oct. 8 by an improvised explosive device. After burial services, workers at the Cooke Memorial Cemetery found flags, posters and flowers ripped up at the gravesite.
"This town had turned out in such huge numbers to bury Corporal Burris," Liberty Police Chief Mike Cummings told FOXNews.com. "To have something like this happen right on the heels of that ceremony, it was like a blow to the gut."
Liberty police arrested Wallace DeBlanc Wednesday night on state felony charges of criminal mischief at a place of human burial and felony theft. DeBlanc faces up to two years in jail and up to $20,000 in fines.
DeBlanc confessed in a statement to police to stealing the flower wire stands from the gravesite to resell them to florists, Cummings said. DeBlanc profited less than $100 from the ordeal, Cummings said.
Police tracked down the stolen items from the gravesite leading to DeBlanc, who has a previous criminal history.
Brent Burris, Jeremy's father, said the family was relieved that the suspect was caught.
"We're glad that it wasn't some kind of political event," Brent Burris told FOXNews.com. "We weren't happy that it happened but it didn't upset us, either."
Burris said his son always wanted to be a Marine since a young child and joined about two years ago.
"We are very proud of him," Burris said. "We are obviously sad about the loss but he was doing what he wanted to do and he was also being a strong witness of his faith."
FOXNews.com's Lauren Joseph and Melissa Underwood contributed to this report.