Native American bones stolen from Ohio grave to be reburied


By John Seewer - Associated Press



The remains of eight Native Americans dug up in southern Ohio and sold by three men will be handed over to a tribe and buried again now that those involved have been sentenced.

The bones and other artifacts will be buried privately at an undisclosed location in the state, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

A federal judge this week sentenced the last of the three men to 30 days in prison for digging up the remains in Jackson County five years ago and selling them.

Toby Lee Thacker, of Wellston, was ordered on Wednesday to pay in $1,000 restitution. Brian Skeens, of Wellston, was sentenced to 90 days in prison last week. Messages seeking comment were left with their attorneys.

Another man was sentenced to 30 days last year, and a fourth who pleaded guilty to buying the bones was ordered to pay a fine and restitution to the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma to cover the costs of the burial.

The tribe will handle the burial, and nobody will know the location except for a few of its members, said Michael Marous, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Columbus.

“They have a connection to the area historically,” he said.

Investigators say three men dug up the remains of two adults and six children and hundreds of artifacts from a rock shelter on a farm about 80 miles south of Columbus.

A neighbor had spotted the group digging, and authorities later found shovels, dirt sifters, buckets and a hole that was the size of a small car.

An archaeologist who helped identify the remains said rock shelters were used often as burial sites in southern Ohio.

Some of the remains that were unearthed were estimated to be close to 1,000 years old, or possibly older, Marous said.

The artifacts included thousands of pieces of pottery, animal bones, stone tools — mostly in fragments.

By John Seewer

Associated Press