Skull stolen from Spartanburg grave - FOX Carolina 21

Skull stolen from Spartanburg grave

Posted: Updated:
Pieces of concrete and chunks of dirt lay strewn about the grave site after police say someone broke into the coffin. (March 28, 2012/FOX Carolina) Pieces of concrete and chunks of dirt lay strewn about the grave site after police say someone broke into the coffin. (March 28, 2012/FOX Carolina)

Spartanburg police said that someone stole a skull from a grave earlier this week.

The theft was reported Monday afternoon at Oakwood Cemetery near Converse College.

According to the incident report, a woman who was walking through the cemetery noticed one of the graves had been vandalized. It said the woman called mortuary manager Glenn Miller, who then called police.

The report said that officers found cinder blocks scattered about the grave site, an overturned headstone and a severely damaged tomb. It said the upper part of the coffin had been moved about 30 feet away from the grave and that the head of the corpse was missing.

Miller said he is a member of the Oakwood Cemetery Perpetual Care Association, a group of volunteers charged with caring for the cemetery.

Miller said the grave is that of a man who died in 1967, and that the group is trying to contact the man's family. A picture of the headstone showed the grave belongs to James Hosea Smith who died on Feb. 12, 1967.

SLIDESHOW: Spartanburg grave robbed

Miller said they have had instances of vandalism at the cemetery before, but have never had someone break into a coffin.

Police said the thief could face charges of desecrating a grave, which carries a possible sentence of 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Anyone with information about the theft was asked to contact the Spartanburg Public Safety Department or Crime Stoppers at 888-CRIME-SC (888-274-6372).

Who was James Hosea Smith?

A librarian at the Spartanburg County Public Library said that according to records, James Hosea Smith died at 68, after battling a long illness at a local hospital. He was buried in a plot next to his parents.

The librarian said Smith was a printer for the Textile Tribune, which was an old publication for the textile industry.

Brief history of Oakwood Cemetery

Oakwood Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Spartanburg and was started in the 1880s. It is referred to by many locals as Hell's Gate, which is a nickname given to it by students at Converse College, according to a librarian at the Spartanburg County Public Library.

The president of the cemetery said care for the graveyard suffered until volunteers united to have the area cleaned up and restored about 25 years ago.

According to, the cemetery serves as the final resting place for many politicians.

The website also said the graveyard is also rumored to experience frequent hauntings, especially in the section of the graveyard where many children are buried. It said many people claim that their cell phones will get a busy signal in the oldest part of the graveyard, and others claim that when someone takes a picture, the flash on their cameras will not work. It said people have also claimed to have seen a white mist and unexplained lights at the cemetery.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly
Fox Carolina
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, WHNS; Greenville, SC. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.