UPDATE: Another arrest made after woman's grave found dug up in Martin County

UPDATE 8/3/17 @ 11:05 a.m.
MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Another person has been arrested after woman's grave was found dug up in Martin County.

Jennifer Luster, 35, of Inez, is charged with violating graves.

Tea Jay Luster, 26, of Inez, and James Howard, 33, of Inez were arrested August 1 and charged with violating graves.

According to the Martin County Sheriff's Department, Tea Jay and Jennifer are husband and wife.

Emily Howard died 15 years ago and her grave was found unearthed Sunday.

One of the suspects allegedly responsible is Emily's own grandson.

The sheriff's department says the two confessed to the act, and that they were trying to get into the coffin believing they'd find jewelry they could sell that had been buried with Emily.

Investigators say the suspects had tried to break into the coffin but were unsuccessful.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/1/17 @ 9 p.m.
MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Relatives didn't have to wait long to find out who dug up their loved one's grave, but the answer is causing additional pain.

Emily Howard's resting place at Stacy's Cemetery in Martin County was found unearthed Sunday. She'd been dead 15 years.

Family members said they had no idea who would commit such a disrespectful act, and they were disheartened when they learned one of the suspects allegedly responsible was Emily's own grandson.

"It hurt the family very much," George Jude, Emily's grandson-in-law, told WSAZ. "They really weren't expecting it to be part of the family that did it."

Investigators say they got a tip that led them overnight to the two men who were involved: James Howard and Tea Jay Luster.

The sheriff's department says the two confessed to the act, and that they were trying to get into the coffin believing they'd find jewelry they could sell that had been buried with Emily.

"They had to be in a bad mindset," Jude said. "Anybody in their right mind I don't think would've been up there digging out a grave. They put in a lot of work. It's crazy."

Jude says James has had ongoing problems, but they never imagined he'd go to these lengths.

"The family talked about it," Jude said. "Drugs are just another tool the devil uses to lure people in. They'll do anything."

They're hoping this new previously unimaginable low becomes becomes a turning point.

"We're just praying through this that he'll get help," Jude said.

Both men are charged with violating a grave.

Investigators say the suspects had tried to break into the coffin but were unsuccessful.

Family members say there was no jewelry or anything of value to steal.

Oda Howard, James's father, gave an emotional interview with WSAZ before the arrests, saying he had no idea who would've done such a thing.

Tuesday, Oda said it was another difficult turn after learning his own son was one of the people who'd allegedly done the digging.

"He needs to get his issues straightened out," Oda said.



UPDATE 8/1/17 @ 6:00 a.m.
MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Two men are facing charges in connection with digging up a woman's grave in Martin County, Ky.

James Howard and Tea Jay Luster were arrested around 1 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Both men are charged with violating graves.

According to deputies, James Howard is the grandson of Emily Howard, the woman whose grave was dug up.

Investigators say they got a tip from someone that the two men were involved.

After interviewing the two men, deputies say they confessed to digging up Howard's grave.



ORIGINAL STORY 7/31/17
MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A family is mystified after learning their loved one's grave was dug up over the weekend.

After 15 years of Emily Howard resting in peace, her family never dreamed she'd be at the center of a mystery.

"It's hard enough to go through a funeral, but then 15 years later to have somebody come and dig your mother up, that's despicable," Emily's son Oda Howard said.

Oda says he's emotionally torn up by the deeply disrespectful act toward the memory of his mother.

"It's hard," he said. "That's your family. Nobody wants to come up here for that. Nobody should have to."

Sunday morning, a young man visiting Stacy's Cemetery by Peter Cave Lake saw that Emily's grave had been dug up to the top of the vault.

"It's a very disrespectful thing to do, to dig up somebody's family member and just leave it open like that," Emily's grandson-in-law George Jude said. "I can't understand what would cross somebody's mind to make them do that."

The Martin County Sheriff's Department says they suspect the grave digger was trying to steal jewelry or other valuables that might have been buried with the corpse.

The family says there were no such valuables there to find.

"The only thing in her coffin when they buried her was a porcelain doll and six pictures," Jude said. "Even if she had a ring or two on her, it wouldn't have been worth going through all the trouble to dig it up. They put in a whole lot of work over nothing."

"Whoever did it, don't do this to other families," Oda said. "It's not right."

A funeral home has moved the dirt back over the resting place.

Family members say burnt out cigarettes and water bottles were found by the grave.

Investigators say they believe it happened some time between Saturday evening and Sunday morning.




 
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