STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Stone County sheriff's deputies call it one of the most bizarre cases they've ever seen. When Veris Dunbar died in September 2012, she was buried in a private family cemetery. A few weeks ago, her daughter called authorities after discovering someone had dug up her mother's remains.
Deputies say they have charged someone with digging up Veris' urn and relocating it to another part of the cemetery. Deputies said Veris' family showed a receipt showing she paid for the plot where she was buried. Authorities are still awaiting a court order to be able to exhume the second grave to be sure Veris' remains are actually in there.
In the meantime, her daughter says she's living a horrifying nightmare.
Deidre Dunbar says her mother lived in Stone County as a child. Her last wish was to be buried here alongside her grandparents in Willis Cemetery.
"She loved it here, so when she was in her 80s she decided to come down and pick out her spot so she could be buried close to them," said Deidre.
Then in early March, Deidre found out another person was buried in the same grave where her mother's urn was supposed be. Now there is crime scene tape where her mother's remains are believed to have been moved.
"I found out that a cousin died and another cousin dug my mother up for her grave," said Deidre. "Dug her up and put his sister in my mother's grave."
Stone County Sheriff's deputies arrested 56-year-old Percy Williams. Because this is such a rare case, deputies had to do some research to figure out the charge, which ended up being disinterment for wantonness.
"It means that you do stuff without cause, without motive. Reading that definition and understanding it, we see why it's on the book. You often hear of people disturbing graves and stealing artifacts or jewelry, but for this reason it's very seldom used," said Lt. Ray Boggs.
Boggs said the Sheriff's Department is still waiting for a court order to be able to dig up what is believed to be the second grave site.
"We have to make sure for one her urn is in there and her ashes are not disturbed," said Boggs.
The disturbance of Veris Durbar's grave is even more complicated because of the her Native American heritage.
"She was Choctaw Indian, and so she was buried in the traditional way with a bundle," said Deidre. "She was also Christian, but we also practice our native culture. To us that bundle was things she needs in her spirit world. Now she's without it. I have to have a whole other funeral according to our traditions because the bundle was disturbed."
"Now I have to have another ceremony. I'm trying to decide if I'm going to leave her here, or there is talk about having her buried up on the reservation in Philadelphia. I don't know. It's a hard decision because I know she wanted to be near great grandma. So I'm praying over it and hoping that God will guide me on what I need to do," said Deidre.
Deputies said disinterment for wantonness in a felony and with conviction carries up to five years in prison. They say if any items are missing from Veris Dunbar's grave more charges could be filed.
"It's been horrifying. It's been horrifying. This is like a nightmare. My mom don't deserve this," said Deidre.