Jackson County

Who stole Daddy’s headstone? ‘What kind of person would do that?’ daughter asks.

Who stole Daddy’s headstone?

A woman is looking for clues in the theft of her father's headstone .from Gautier's Bethel Cemetery.
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A woman is looking for clues in the theft of her father's headstone .from Gautier's Bethel Cemetery.

Mandy Hibbs visited her father’s grave on his birthday, like she does every year, and was shocked to find his headstone missing. It’s not a light item.

The 2-foot by 3-foot piece of granite had his name, birth date and death date carved into it. And it looks like someone pulled it straight up and off the pedestal it has been anchored to since 1990, when he died.

She wondered if, by chance, someone has the same name.

Her father was Timothy Lavern Miller, born July 31, 1944 and died July 15, 1990.

He was a Biloxi native — raised on the Point. He was a house painter who worked on the Coast all his life. He was 46 when he died. She was 14.

He loved old cars and passed that love on to his children, who in turn passed it on to his grandchildren.

“He was a good person,” she said. “Good-hearted.”

He was buried near his brother and mother in the Bethel Cemetery off Ladnier Road, next to the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.

The beautiful cemetery, nestled under old Live oaks, looks peaceful, not a place to be disturbed. No other graves were vandalized.

Hibbs points out that if the thieves were after granite, there were headstones closer to the woods and ones closer to the driveway, where they could be whisked away without the risk of being seen.

Whoever took Timothy Miller’s stone had to haul it a good distance to a car. She checked the nearby woods around the cemetery and filed a police report earlier this month.

There is only one house near the graveyard, police said. One of the problems with the case is that Hibbs doesn’t know exactly when it was taken. It could have been anytime in the past year.

Hibbs and police are hoping someone may have driven past at the time it was stolen and seen something odd they could report.

“Maybe someone saw something,” Hibbs said. “It gives me chills just to think about it.

“What kind of person would do something like that?” she asked.

When he died, he owned a 1965 El Camino, so a nephew placed two small model cars on his grave those many years ago. The two tiny cars have not been disturbed.

Gautier police have no leads in the case.

Not being able to pinpoint a possible time of the theft makes it difficult to solve, police said.

Why would someone do it?

“Only that person and God would know why they took it,” said Capt. Casey Baxter. “I'm not in their head.”

How to help

Anyone with clues, call Gautier police at 228-497-2486.

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