A woman robbed a child's grave, walking away with a stuffed animal memento, as well as her own self-dignity. The Ohio woman was caught on surveillance video nabbing the toy from a grave plot of someone she did not know. The so-called tomb-raider has since turned herself in.
According to a report Thursday from The Associated Press, as carried by Fox News, 54-year-old Frieda Kay Shade, from Ontario, Ohio, will plead guilty to one count of theft, a first-degree misdemeanor. Shade voluntarily turned herself in to police after the story of her reprehensible grave robbing – and the video to boot – went viral.
The theft occurred at Mansfield Memorial Park. Shade took the toy – a stuffed animal duck – from the grave of a 14-month-old infant who died in 2007. The name on the plot was Hayden "Tank" Cole, and Cole’s parents reportedly laid the toy at his grave on Easter.
Shade initially tried to pass off her theft with a story about a dog, reports USA Today. Detective Jon Sigler said Shade told authorities that she saw a dog running loose and was concerned that the dog would pick up the toy and walk away with it. In other words, the very thing she did. She later admitted to fabricating the story.
Shade's attorney, Charles Robinson, said video of his client was shared on social media, where it went viral. He said several people identified Shade by name after seeing the video. “The video is there, we're not denying that. But video evidence does not show what a person is thinking. There are mitigating circumstances,” Robinson said, without providing any detail or giving a possible motive. “We all have sympathy for a child who has expired. We know how hard that is, and we sympathize with that,” Robinson added.
According to Mansfield Municipal Court records, Shade has a history of misdemeanors and a past record for similar crimes. USA Today reports Shade has “made several appearances in court for criminal and civil charges including passing bad checks, unauthorized use of property and evictions.”
Hayden’s parents, Scott and Jaclyn Sheridan, were contacted about the theft. Reports USA Today:
Sheridan and his wife believe the grave has been targeted by thieves over the years; stolen items have included flowers, wreaths and toy tanks. That in turn led the Ontario Police Department to set up a surveillance camera, a kind typically used by hunters, near the gravesite in July 2012.
“I have no idea yet how I feel about (the arrest). I'm kind of in shock and have had no chance to think about it,” said Scott Sheridan. Added Scott’s wife Jaclyn: “We should be able to decorate his resting spot and leave things on his grave during the time we're allowed.”