Before Ora Ann Castle passed away last year, she asked her family to make one promise: to never leave her in the dark.
She’s buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Springfield in a plot next to her son, and husband Billie Castle said he’s surrounded her tombstone with solar lights. Each night, he walks to the cemetery and stands outside the fence to talk to her, using the lights to located her grave among the rows.
“My wife was afraid of the dark, and as long as I live, I’ll have a light there,” Castle said.
Thieves have made this promise increasingly difficult to keep, stealing 14 sets of solar lights since August 2012. The lights are not made out of metal, which eliminates the concern that scrappers would take them. At times, the family has cemented the stakes into the ground, but the thieves “took the time to pound them out and break them,” said Barbara Castle, Ora Ann Castle’s daughter.
The lights themselves aren’t worth much— the family has paid about $150 to replace them— but family members said constantly having to replace them is upsetting.
“It’s not like we put anything out there that would mean anything to anybody else,” Barbara Castle said. “It feels like she can’t rest in peace because people won’t leave her alone.”
The superintendent of Ferncliff Cemetery did not return a phone call seeking comment. The cemetery’s regulations, posted on their website, do not ban the use of solar lights. The Castles said security officers at the cemetery have not located the thieves and have suggested they stop putting lights on the grave. However, that’s not something they’re willing to do.
“As long as I’m alive, I’ll put lights out there,” Barbara Castle said.
The family plans to make a report to police, and, in the meantime, they said they hope these grave robbers will “get a conscience” and stop stealing from their plot.
“I don’t understand how you would ever get forgiven or face God for stealing from the dead,” Billie Castle said. “I think you will answer to God for it.”