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1 arrested, 1 sought in series of thefts at cemeteries

HOUSTON – Nancy Smith was devastated after losing her 18-year-old son Tyler in a car crash last year.

She said she regularly visits his gravesite at the San Jacinto Funeral Home and Memorial Park, and often times she leaves behind things in his memory.

“To me, that’s what you do," Smith said. "You take care of the cemetery. You don’t steal from it.”

On a recent visit, however, she realized many of the items she left at her son’s grave had been stolen.

“I decorate his grave, and I come out one day and everything was just gone,” Smith said.

After speaking with others at the cemetery and taking to social media, Smith said it was quickly apparent there were also other victims out there and at other cemeteries.

“My son should be safe,” Smith said. "My son’s belongings should be safe here.”

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office has been investigating the case. Deer Park police said investigators were also looking similar cases in that area.

Investigators named Heaven Rodriguez and Cherish Rodriguez as persons of interest in the case. Heaven was later arrested and charged with felony theft, and the same charges have been filed against Cherish.

“This is our last way of showing that we love our children, and for someone to come and just do that to us -- it’s heartbreaking,” Smith said.

Although some of Nancy’s items have been recovered by police, many others remain missing. More than anything she wants other possible victims to report similar crimes so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

“I don’t care if it’s flowers or stuffed animals, file a report," Smith said. "Nothing can be done if police don’t know.”

Officials at the San Jacinto Funeral Home and Memorial Park issued the following statement:

“San Jacinto Funeral Home and Memorial Park is honored at the trust placed in us by so many families and we regret any distress that has been caused. Currently, law enforcement is involved in an investigation into this matter. Our gates are locked at night and we are always diligent about ways to secure our location. We take every precaution reasonably available to ensure that gravesites are not disturbed. As with all families we serve, we will ensure the family is treated with dignity and respect.”


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