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JONESBORO, Ark. – On February 15, Brandon Nelson and Brook Edwards were riding bicycles back from Wal-mart when they passed a cemetery and decided to have fun by taking turns desecrating the resting places of loved ones, reported the detective who interviewed both.
The interviews, which happened on Friday, Feb. 23, revealed much more about the alleged insensitive criminal acts of the two involved. It should come as no surprised one of the men was said to be on a controlled substance.
Authorities first caught their break on Feb. 20, when a jail employee called the department to say they knew who was behind the crime. Detectives went to Craighead County Detention Center where Edwards, 22, was already in jail on another crime. As soon as authorities asked him about his involvement in the Feb. 15 cemetery crimes, he turned on his cohort. Immediately, he blamed Nelson, 21, of Bono, for the most egregious acts such as stealing the remains and pouring them in the creek. Edwards said Nelson arrived at his house with the remains already in a box. He said Nelson was “grave robbing” because he was on a controlled substance and wanted to pawn items for cash to buy more dope.
Finding Nelson became authorities’ next task. After several interviews, police found a witness who said Nelson had bragged about his misdeeds. Nelson said both he AND Edwards had broken into the cemetery, took some dog tags, a badge and some ashes.
By Friday, authorities had located Nelson. His story began with the two trying to pull up a headstone. They failed, realizing it was too heavy. The two then went to the mausoleum where cremated remains of Officer Robert Peevey laid behind a ceramic monument/cover.
Nelson told a detective he and Edwards both took turns hitting the monument until it shattered. Nelson said he took out the box, containing the remains of Peevey, and tucked it under his jacket.
They then rode their bikes to the Gee street where he said Brook Edwards broke open the box and poured out the remains. – Kenny Oldham, JPD
Oldham’s next task was to interview Edwards. Just like Nelson, Edwards was advised of his Miranda rights and agreed to speak to the officer without a lawyer.
Edwards said Nelson called him and told him he had to see something. Edwards said he met Nelson and Nelson had the box containing the officer’s remains. Edwards had previously said Nelson showed up to his house with the ashes. He said they went to the creek and Edwards watched as Nelson broke open the box and dumped the ashes out.
The officer began to poke holes in that story. He asked about the two trying to pull up a headstone. At first, Edwards said he didn’t know about a headstone but he decided to tell Oldham the two had both tried to pull it out of the ground. Still, Edwards insisted he had not broke into the vault holding the officer’s remains.
The two men appeared before Judge Tommy Fowler at 1 p.m. Monday and probable cause was found to charge both men with felony abuse of a corpse, desecration of a monument, breaking or entering, and misdemeanor theft. Bond was set at $25,000 each.
They will be arraigned and plea to their charges at 8:30 a.m. on March 30 in Craighead County Circuit Court.
Some of the officer’s ashes were recovered.