Alabama woman arrested after ‘disgraceful act,’ stealing flowers from graves, sheriff says

Published 4:07 pm Monday, May 20, 2024

An Alabama woman has been arrested after criminal investigators say she stole flowers off a grave and was caught on camera. Deputies also think she may have stolen many more flowers which they recovered.

On May 16, the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a Theft of Decoration Day flowers from a family gravesite in Painter Cemetery at the intersection of CR-179 & CR-24.

The victim had recently been the victim of a previous theft from the same gravesite and had installed cameras in the area. In the early morning hours of May 16, those cameras caught a female subject in the act of stealing two sets of handmade floral arrangements from a headstone.

An investigation by the Dekalb County Criminal Investigation Division was then opened due to the callous and heinous nature of the act.

Later that same day, after positively identifying the female subject as Martha Jane Bowes, 69, of Valley Head, Investigators obtained warrants on Bowes for Theft of Property 4th (13A-8-5) as well as Desecration of a Gravesite.

On Friday, May 17, a search warrant at Bowes residence in Hammondville was executed by Investigators, DCSO Deputies, Valley Head P.D. and Mentone P.D. During the course of this search warrant the victim’s floral arrangements were recovered and returned. A large amount of other decoration-style floral arrangements was also present at the residence and seized.

On Saturday, May 18, an Investigator spoke with Bowes and attempted to have her turn herself in. Bowes stated that she was currently in Mississippi and would not be back in Dekalb County until the following Wednesday. Information was then obtained by Investigators that Bowes was currently in Fort Payne, and not in Mississippi as she had previously stated.

At approximately 7 p.m.Ala that evening, Investigators went to a residence in Fort Payne and arrested Bowes without incident. Bowes was then transported to the Dekalb County Detention Center on the above charges as well as two outstanding Failure to Appear warrants with the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office. The Dekalb County Criminal Investigation Division would like to thank Valley Head Police Department and Mentone Police Department for their assistance in this case.

“It is sad that we even have laws on the books relating to this type of disgraceful act, but even worse that we have someone actually committing them,” DeKalb County Sheriff Nick Welden said. “But just like any other crime we will 100% put our resources to solving it. Great job by DCSO Investigations and a huge thanks to the public for providing vital intel. Now stolen items can be returned in time for families to have decoration and honor their loved ones that have passed on. We will honor the thief and put a decoration of charges on them!”