A woman was videotaped over Easter weekend removing a large stuffed yellow duck from the grave of an Ohio child. Now, Frieda Kay Shade, 54, has been charged with theft.
Ontario, Ohio, police set up a surveillance camera near the grave site of Hayden Cole Sheridan, nicknamed Tank, in July 2012 because the child’s parents said items left there were continually disappearing, Detective Jon Sigler told the Los Angeles Times.
It took two years, but now Scott and Jaclyn Sheridan believe they’ve caught a thief.
Video of a woman picking up and slowly walking away with the toy was posted on the Ontario police Facebook page and quickly piled up millions of views.
“They asked me to keep an eye on [the grave] specifically around the holidays because that seems to be the time when thieves were striking,” Sigler said by email.
Tank was one of a set of triplets. He died seven years ago at the age of 14 months, and his parents and surviving siblings visit his grave regularly. Jaclyn Sheridan decorates the site for holidays.
“So I would put the camera up for every holiday in hopes of catching someone,” Sigler said. “Unfortunately, I never was able to get an image or video that was of good enough quality to get the person identified.”
He noted that his equipment was a “deer trail camera” and not high-tech. “But it does have motion detection, night vision and audio capabilities so it does work.”
After the video went viral, Shade turned herself in to police on Wednesday. She said she had picked up the duck because there was a dog running around the cemetery and she was afraid the toy might get torn up.
She was charged Thursday with petty theft, Sigler said, a first-degree misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Her lawyer says she will plead not guilty, he said.
It’s not clear whether Shade may have been behind the disappearance of any other items. Shade’s lawyer told USA Today they had sympathy “for a child who has expired,” but that in the case of the stuffed duck there were “mitigating circumstances.” He didn’t elaborate.
The family plans to continue to leave toys and other objects at Tank’s grave. It’s only right, Sheridan told the news outlet: “We should be able to decorate his resting spot.”
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