Florida

She destroyed tombstones at a church cemetery. Then cops looked inside her purse.

Channon Marie Clarkson
Channon Marie Clarkson

A more than 100-year-old cemetery outside a Florida black church was vandalized, according to a police report from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

On Tuesday, a woman was arrested for destruction of property at the 100-year-old-plus Unity African Methodist Episcopal Church Cemetery in Seffner, near Tampa.

The report says the suspect, Channon Marie Clarkson, 35, was seen roaming around the graveyard last Tuesday afternoon.

A church employee spotted the suspect pulling up headstones from the ground and removing engraved templates from several grave sites.

Deputies were summoned and talked to the pastor, who did not believe her actions constituted a hate crime as Clarkson suffers from “mental illness.”

In her purse, deputies found such items as angels and flower holders that appeared to have come from the grave sites.

Damage to the church, which is 126 years old, are expected to exceed $5,000.

In addition to being charged with removing, disfiguring, destroying, or injuring a tomb, Clarkson was charged with grand theft in the third degree. She was being held in lieu of $4,000 bond.

Lincoln Memorial Park and Evergreen Memorial Park, the final resting place of many of Miami's African-American pioneers, are being broken into and bones are being stolen. The caretaker at Lincoln says he was recently offered $1,000 for a skull.

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