Earlier this spring, conservation officers were called to a vast, wooded tract of land in southeastern Harrison County where a landowner had discovered the gravesite of Nancy Brown was exhumed. Brown died in 1881 at the age of 47.
“Given the remote territory, it's very likely that multiple people were involved and with the amount of labor that was involved,” Indiana Conservation Officer Jim Schreck said.
Indiana conservation officers and archaeologists with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources surveyed the gravesite and collected evidence, which was sent to a laboratory for analysis.
“We teamed up with our state archeologist and went to the site and needless to say we found a pretty disturbing scene,” Schreck said.
Due to the cemetery's remote location, it is not clear when the gravesite was looted.
“Someone that did this, they went there with a mission to disturb someone's gravesite,” Schreck said. “There's no reason why someone would do that and they had to take the tools with them. The amount of excavation that took place, someone preplanned this and took some effort to this.”
The Harrison County Public Library Genealogy Department assisted in trying to track down Brown's descendants. Brown was married to Henry Brown.
“We're still looking for any living relatives,” Schreck said. “It's very heartbreaking to find out that your loved one has been unearthed after that long of being at rest.”
It's not clear why after all these years, Brown’s grave was targeted. Schreck isn’t sure what thieves were looking for and what would have been left behind.
“I don't know that a whole lot would be left, but again jewelry or other items that they may have been looking for, those are things that we definitely want to know about,” Schreck said.
Anyone with information about this case should contact Indiana Conservation Officers' Central Dispatch at 812-837-9536 or their anonymous tip line at 800-TIPIDNR (847-4367). There is a reward for information leading to an arrest.