2 charged, 2 sought for questioning in connection with theft of Houlton founder’s gravestone

Posted Sept. 18, 2012, at 1:24 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 18, 2012, at 5:50 p.m.
This is the gravestone of Joseph Houlton, who founded the town bearing his name in 1807. The marker was stolen between Sept. 4 and Sept. 7. The marker weighs 70 pounds.
Houlton Police Department
This is the gravestone of Joseph Houlton, who founded the town bearing his name in 1807. The marker was stolen between Sept. 4 and Sept. 7. The marker weighs 70 pounds.

HOULTON, Maine — About a week after the grave marker of the town’s founder was reported missing from a local cemetery, police have charged two individuals and are seeking two others in connection with its theft.

Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin said Tuesday evening that Joseph Houlton’s 70-pound grave marker was located earlier in the day in a swampy area in Hodgdon.

According to the chief, police received information on their anonymous tip line on Sept. 12 that assisted in recovering the gravestone that had been removed from Evergreen Cemetery sometime between Sept. 4 and 6.
Houlton Detective Kris Calaman began an investigation that pointed him toward the four suspects.

A total of two calls were received and each caller shared the same information.

Asselin said Leonard Devoe, 18, of Houlton, and Jeremy Skura, 23, of Hodgdon, were summoned for theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, a Class D crime. Other charges may be forthcoming.

Police are asking for the public’s help to find two more individuals wanted for questioning, Earl Little Jr., 22, and Brian Devoe, 28, both of Houlton.

Police allege that all four men were consuming alcohol and partying in the Evergreen Cemetery when they began joking with one another about removing the headstone from the cemetery.

After it was taken, the suspects placed the headstone in a vehicle and took it to Skura’s residence in Hodgdon, according to police.

The following morning, Asselin said Skura panicked and drove the stone to the swamp on Hollywood Road, which is a short distance from the Houlton-Hodgdon town line. Skura removed the stone from his vehicle, walked approximately 15 feet into the swamp and discarded the property into the water.

Police escorted Skura back to the swamp Tuesday afternoon and had him retrieve the stolen property, the chief said.

Asselin said police appreciate the help they received from the public in solving this crime and recovering the stolen property. He added that the individuals who provided the tips “deserve the gratitude of the police department and the community for the service they have provided.”

The headstone has been returned to the cemetery superintendent and police expect it to be returned to its rightful location later this week.

Anyone with information on the location of the other two individuals is asked to call the department at 532-2287. The number for the anonymous tip line is 694-3545.

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