The flowers were bright and colorful, spread out atop a curb in a dazzling collection of reds, whites, pinks, purples and yellows. The display caught one Pell City, Ala., woman’s eye in a shopping center parking lot on March 30.
Then she saw the same bouquet that had been placed at her mother-in-law’s grave – and came to a horrible conclusion: These flowers, or at least some of them, had been pilfered from cemeteries.
She called her sister-in-law Beverly Mulvehill. The two confronted the woman and said they were taking their flowers back.
“Of course she was not happy, she wanted to know if we were going to buy those flowers, I said: ‘No ma’am, we are not buying these flowers, these are mine. Sure enough they’re mine, because I made them,’” Mulvehill told WVTM.
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She called police, and an officer came to file a report, which led the woman to make a hasty exit, Mulvehill told ABC 33/40.
Mulvehill posted photos of the woman and the spread of flowers on Facebook and asked people to message her if they saw any of their own. The post was shared more than 600 times and got dozens of comments as people shared stories of flowers and planters that had been stolen from their families’ graves.
Days later, Pell City Police arrested 62-year-old Bernadette Clark, of Lincoln, Ala., on charges of receiving stolen property, WIAT reported. Police said they had received reports from people across St. Clair, Talladega and Calhoun counties who reportedly had proof the stolen flowers were theirs, according to the station.
“If you need help with something financially or whatever your reasoning is behind it, there’s ways to get help without stealing from the dead,” Mulvehill’s sister-in-law Carolyn Pruett told WVTM.
Pell City Police Chief Paul Irwin said it was thanks to help from citizens the crime was able to be solved.
“It is sad that these victims would have this happen to them, but with the assistance of the victims and our department actively pursuing this crime regardless of the offense classification, we will bring justice to these victims,” Irwin told the St. Clair Times.
Clark bonded out of jail and is expected in court later in April.
“These families are very emotional and shocked by these crimes, and I am happy that we can bring them a resolution,” Chief Irwin told ABC 33/40.