2 plead guilty to Martinsburg casket break-ins

MARTINSBURG — Two men face up to 115 years in prison each after pleading guilty to charges stemming from break-ins of two mausoleums at a Martinsburg cemetery.

David P. Bowers, 25, of Hedgesville, and Richard Ruffner, 30, of Martinsburg, pleaded guilty Monday to 23 felony counts of disinterment of a body and one conspiracy count. There was no plea agreement for either man.

The men’s defense attorneys told Berkeley County Circuit Court Judge Gray Silver III that their clients voluntarily pleaded guilty.

“He doesn’t deny what he did; he just wants to accept responsibility,” Ruffner’s attorney, Matthew Harvey, said.

Bowers’ attorney, Ben Crawley-Woods, said his client accepted responsibility and did not want to go to trial.

The case against a third suspect, Erick Wayne Arthur, 32, of Bunker Hill, is pending, Berkeley County Assistant Prosecutor Gregory K. Jones said after the hearing.

Police have said two mausoleums at Rosedale Cemetery were broken into and more than 20 caskets were pried open during two break-ins in 2013.

Bowers told a West Virginia State Police trooper he helped Ruffner and a third person open caskets. A coat hanger was used to remove the jewelry, which was taken to a “cash-for-gold” business at the Martinsburg Mall for exchange, according to court records.

Bowers told the judge Monday that it was his idea to go the cemetery and take jewelry from caskets. He said Ruffner went along with the plan.

Jones told Silver that each man admitted to breaking into some of the caskets, which were so heavy that two people were required to open them.

“This was a two-man job,” Jones said.

Bowers and Ruffner face up to five years in prison on each disinterment count and one to five years each on the conspiracy counts.

Sentencing is set for July 14.


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