Homeless woman arrested for removing tombstones at Florida church

U.S. & World
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A homeless woman is behind bars, accused of removing tombstones and stealing from graves at a historic church in Seffner, Florida. 

Hillsborough County deputies say 35-year-old Channon Marie Clarkson went into the Unity African Methodist Episcopal Church Cemetery on Dr. King Boulevard West around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. The church has been in Seffner for 126 years.

A church employee told deputies they spotted Clarkson roaming around the cemetery and pulling two headstones up from the ground. She’s also accused of removing engraved templates from several grave sites.

When deputies arrived at the scene and confronted her, they found several items in her purse that she had removed from other graves, including angels and flower holders.

Deputies and Clarkson met with the pastor and church leadership after she was caught. They determined the incident was not a hate crime. Deputies say Clarkson is homeless and they believe she suffers from a mental illness. 

The pastor says the church is still trying to figure out how much the damage will cost, but it’s expected to be more than $5,000.

Clarkson is facing charges of removing, disfiguring, destroying or injuring a tomb and grand theft.

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