Woman accused of stealing from gravesites speaks

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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- A St. Joseph couple is accused of stealing from the dead.

Sixty-one-year-old Steven Estes and his 51-year-old companion, Janice Collado, face theft charges in city court.

Estes and Collado allegedly stole several baskets of live flowers from the gravesites of Rita Sherman's mother and daughter.

"I don't even know how they can live with themselves at all," said Sherman. "It's just really sad."

According to police, last week someone saw Steven Estes steal flowers off several graves at Memorial Park Cemetery, including her son's.

Police later discovered Estes and Collado had dozens of stolen gravesite decorations including flowers, crosses and American flags in the trunk of their car and in their front and backyard of their home.

"He said take whatever you want, so we took them," Collado told FOX 4 on Wednesday. "I didn't want to see them in the trash."

Collado is free on bond. Estes remains in jail on unrelated outstanding warrants.

Collado told FOX 4 a groundsman gave them permission to take the gravesite decorations.

"I didn't feel like this is a theft and I apologize. I'm sorry that I hurt so many people."

So what did Collado plan to do with the items?

"Probably just give them to friends and neighbors," she said.

Meantime, at Meirhoffer Funeral Home, Diane Leonard and 70 other hurting families recover plants, statues, and other items stolen from their loved ones' graves.

"Who does that? You know that's your place of rest. Who messes with it? It's not right," Leonard said.



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