Reporter: Rachel Schaerr | Videographer: Daniel Heffner
South Hill, VA - A Chase City man is behind bars Thursday charged with the unthinkable -- stealing dozens of bronze urns from graves.
Mecklenburg County investigators say Clint Anthony Reamey sold nearly 200 of the flower vases to a scrap yard in Lunenburg County. The vases were stolen sometime between April and May from Crestview Memorial Park.
The families say this is a very personal crime that violated what they consider sacred ground.
"You never think of having to bury your children. I wish I had him back," said Gary Thompson, holding back tears.
His 16-year-old son, Ty Thompson, died on prom night in a car accident. His father will never forget those final words.
"I told him you've got to be careful, it's prom night, accidents happen. And he said oh Dad, that was back in your generation," Thompson recalled.
Seventeen years later, a strange crime is bringing back old pain.
So far there have been 125 reports of bronze flower vases--twisted then lifted from graves. And investigators know there are many more missing from Crestview Memorial Park.
"People move out of the community, their family leaves from this area, or they die off," explained Investigator Rusty Callahan.
Another family discovered vases were missing from their loved ones' graves while we were there shooting our story.
"I noticed my cousin's mother and her four-month old, his is gone, too," said Terry Hite.
Clint Anthony Reamey is charged with stealing and selling 170 vases to a recycling center one county away.
Betty Beck will get her mother-in-law's vase back when he goes to trial.
"She would have given me her breath if I'd have needed it. And when she passed away, I was holding her hand," Beck remembered.
But there's one tradition no one can take away from Gary Thompson. Every time he passes his son's final resting place-- a honk and a wave for Ty.