Two plead guilty in Martinsburg casket break-ins

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

David P. Bowers, 25, of Hedgesville and Richard Ruffner, 30, of Martinsburg each pleaded guilty on 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, 32-year-old Erick Wayne Arthur 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 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 “cash-for-gold” business at the Martinsburg Mall for exchange, according to court records.

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

Sentencing is set for July 14.

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