Friday, November 09, 2007


HILLSBORO GRAVEYARD, originally uploaded by edmond_ski.

Grave-Robbing Could Be Linked To Ritual Beliefs

Hole Found By 1820s Headstone In Hillsboro Cemetery

HILLSBORO, N.H. -- A grave that was dug up in Hillsboro on Halloween may have been disturbed by people engaging in a ritual, police said.

Police said the grave of Sarah Symonds, who died in 1821, was dug up in the Bible Hill Cemetery. Whoever dug up the grave also took the body, police said.

"The body's certainly missing," said Lt. Darren Remillard.

A caretaker discovered the hole behind Symonds' headstone. It was 5 1/2 feet deep and perfectly rectangular, with mounds of dirt on each side. No trace of the body was left behind.

"We're looking into the reasons why, to see if there's any background that Miss Symonds had in relation to why she would have been taken," Remillard said.

One theory that police are considering is whether it might have been the work of someone who believes in witchcraft.

"With it being Halloween night and the fact that the hole was dug so perfectly, we don't believe it was grave robbers, because the way it was done and the way the dirt was positioned," Remillard said.

Police said that some believe that if a skull is stolen on Halloween night, it will grant powers to a person who holds it. Remillard later backed away from a direct link to witchcraft and apologized for making the association.

Many practitioners of witchcraft, Wicca or paganism contacted local media to protest the link, saying that there is nothing in their beliefs that would call for digging up a grave.

"We believe it's something other than someone digging it up to steal jewelry, so to speak," Remillard said.

Investigators said they have collected evidence and are looking into all possibilities. A monument in the graveyard was also tipped over that night, but it was put back in its place.

Town historians said the Symonds family was well respected, and don't know why her grave would be targeted.

Anyone with information was asked to call Hillsboro police at 603-464-5512.

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