Losing a child is every parents’ worst nightmare, and if anyone knows this it’s Jacob and Tashanna Armstrong. As if the loss wasn’t bad enough, someone seemed to be taunting them, only they didn’t realize it until the couple visited their son’s grave at the cemetery.
They Assumed Their Son Had a Future
Jacob and Tashanna Armstrong imagined they would get to see their child grow up into the incredible man he was destined to become. But that didn’t happen. During the birthing process, little McKade Armstrong lost his life. But this was just the beginning of his parents’ heartbreak.
They Needed Each Other Badly
Life is beautiful, but it can also be really hard at times. Bad things happen. And that’s something that the Armstrongs had just learned on April 14, 2017. Coping with the loss of their child was unbearable at first, but they still had each other to get through one of the worst things they had to do—bury their son.
They Wanted to Honor His Memory
Although the loss of a baby during birth is rare, complications can happen without warning. And unfortunately for the Armstrongs, it did happen to them. And although they would never be okay with him being gone, they still wanted to honor his memory and hoped others would do the same, but that wasn’t the case.
His Spirit Continued to Live On
McKade’s life was short, but he still was and would always be a very important part of the Armstrongs’ lives. He was the most beautiful thing they had ever laid their eyes on and his spirit would live inside of their hearts. In the meantime, they had a place where they would always visit, and so would his future siblings. But a darkness threatened to disturb his eternal rest.
Their Loss Was Devastating
Losing someone is always hard, and losing a child is all the more difficult. The Armstrongs never believed that was an experience they would have to go through, already having two beautiful and healthy children, but they would soon find out that this loss would bring them closer together and closer to their community...
The Loss Brought Them Closer
The love and generosity of their family and friends kept them from sinking into despair, but they missed their little guy so much. Even in their grief, the loss brought the couple even closer, especially when they paid their son a visit at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Oklahoma. But one day, they realized something was amiss.
A Family Visit Went Awry
When the family first decided to visit the cemetery where they laid McKade to rest, Jacob and Tashanna prepared their other children for what would obviously be a very somber experience. But the family didn't expect that this visit would also change the way they thought about their town.
He Still Got Plenty of Gifts
McKade would never get to play with toys like a regular child, but his parents frequented the graveyard and left adorable flags, pinwheels and toys at his grave. They figured their son’s spirit would appreciate the items. But he never got to enjoy them for long, and it’s not because he wasn’t alive.
The Grave Was a Coping Mechanism
Leaving behind tokens of their affection on their son’s grave was a great coping mechanism. But it wasn’t long before they realized that their son wasn’t the only thing missing in their lives. Something else had vanished without a trace.
This Cemetery Had a Secret
Unbeknownst to the Armstrong family, something amiss was going on frequently at the cemetery where they laid their child to rest. Whenever they laid toys, trinkets or letters down on their son's grave, they disappeared by their next visit. Surely there must be a reasonable explanation for this phenomenon...
Their Son’s Trinkets Were Missing
The brokenhearted parents realized that someone was taking the items they left behind. "This pinwheel doesn't mean a whole lot to the next person, but it does mean a lot to the person who placed it there," she told Inside Edition. But was it an animal who took them or some kind of monster in human form?
Suspicions Were Raised
Grave robbing isn't a typical crime in small towns, and that certainly wasn't the extent that this could-be criminal was going to. But, to take children's toys from grieving parents is cruel and devastating for anyone in the mourning process. But were the Armstrongs' suspicions correct, or was it some sort of animal or natural phenomenon moving their trinkets?
He Didn’t Think it Was an Animal
Little McKade’s dad was really angry that someone had taken these items from his son’s grave. Some random stranger was stealing their baby's toys! He wasn’t sure how to catch the bandit at first, but then, inspiration struck and he got to work right away.
They Hid Cameras to Catch a Thief
He decided that the best way to catch the guilty party in the act would be to set up a hidden camera, so that’s exactly what he did. The camera was only a few feet away, but that’s all he needed to learn the identity of the grave robber.
The Camera Was Camouflaged
To catch their thief on camera, Jacob Armstrong had to find specially-made cameras that could be reliable and undetected by other people in the cemetery. Armstrong didn't want to harm anyone else's mourning experience or alert the thieves that there was something more valuable to take than a child's toys.
It Couldn't Be Detected
The camera Armstrong chose would blend in with the trees behind his son's grave and not emit any light or sound while it was recording. Armstrong was willing to go to any lengths possible to ensure that his son could finally rest in peace.
The Camera Was Hidden
Once the camera was placed behind the trees, it was virtually undetectable. And because the camera could be controlled remotely, Armstrong didn't have to worry about being in the graveyard with the thieves to record their nefarious deeds.
The Armstrongs Returned to Find the Footage
Thankfully, the camera did its job and proved that it wasn't a curious animal or mysterious natural phenomenon moving their belongings, but a man who seemed to be purposefully taking the items! But, would this footage be enough to catch their culprit?
They Found a Culprit
Not only did their camera catch a man stealing from their son's grave, the Armstrongs also caught the thief stealing from nearby graves as well, proving that this wasn't a targeted crime. And the strangest part was that the man seemed very nonchalant about what he was doing.
The Thief Wasn’t Done Stealing
Someone had been plucking the grave’s precious trinkets and that someone wasn’t done. The responsible party didn’t care that they were hurting the grieving parents. But they hadn’t counted on the Armstrongs’ ingenuity and that was an oversight they would soon come to regret.
The Footage Wasn’t Clear Enough
The grieving father had managed to capture two shady characters lurking over the grave on the camera he had hidden in the bushes. But the footage wasn't clear enough to see the ones responsible. So, he went back to the graveyard and changed the camera’s position to get a better look. But would it work the second time around?
Grieving Was Difficult
It took enough of a toll on the Armstrong family to grieve the loss of their son without having to deal with this added stress. At times, it seemed like they just couldn't catch a break and that their luck had run out. But, the people around them wanted them to know that wasn't the case...
The Cemetery Provided Help
Thankfully, the cemetery where the Armstrongs visited also helped the couple in their search for the thief who was taking their belongings by letting the couple view security camera footage and get in touch with other families who visited the cemetery as well. But, even this advantage didn't make their search much easier.
They Set Out Bait For the Bandit
After changing the cameras position and setting out more toys for taking, the Armstrongs returned home to keep an eye on the footage that their camera captured. But, would the thieves they saw before return to the site of the crime, or was the first video just a fluke?
The Thief Took the Bait
As luck would have it, it did work, but the guilty party wasn’t what the Armstrongs were expecting. In the footage, they finally got to see an old man picking up a pinwheel from the grave and then walking away. The couple had to act fast, but they couldn’t do it alone.
The Footage Provided Evidence
After viewing the video, the couple got to work trying to identify the man who visited their son's grave. They got in touch with a local news team to assist in their search, and the news team lead the couple to the local police department.
They Went to the Cops
The Armstrongs went to the North Enid Police Department in Oklahoma. There they handed the footage to Deputy Chief James Logsdon, but would they be able to identify the thief and bring him to justice or would he evade the law and leave the couple without a resolution?
This Crime Wasn't Uncommon
Sadly, it isn't uncommon for people to take belongings that are left out in the open in cemeteries, as the police department and news team knew. But, with the video that the Armstrongs had been lucky to capture, they already had much more evidence than most victims could gather.
The Chief Felt Connected to the Family
Logsdon felt sympathy for the family because his sister had passed away at birth and was buried only a feet away from McKade. “It would be hard to find a more defenseless victim than someone buried out here,” Logsdon said to Inside Edition. Then he figured out a way to find the man’s identity.
This Crime Had Happened Before
The news organization that the Armstrongs contacted assured the family that this wasn't the first time this crime had happened, let alone the first time it had happened in their town. Sadly, it almost seemed like a common occurrence.
Evidence Was Gathered
Old evidence showed people stealing flowers, toys and even balloons from gravesites and thankfully, these perpetrators were fined, and sometimes arrested for their actions. But, this was reassuring to the family who feared that their thief would never be brought to justice.
Tips Helped Identify the Suspect
Logsdon gave the images of the thief to a local newspaper. In no time, tips helped authorities identify the suspect as 77-year-old Alfred Boyer. Then, cops headed over to his location to finally bring him to justice for what he had done.
The Man Finally Paid His Dues
A police body camera captured Boyer’s arrest. He was charged with petty larceny, but the Armstrongs were stunned that someone would do such a cold, heartless thing to a baby’s grave. “It’s heartbreaking,” McKade’s mother told Inside Edition. But it wasn’t over.
He Apologized for His Actions
"I'm sorry I did that," Inside Edition quoted Boyer saying. "I'm not a bad person." But it turns out that he wasn’t the only person responsible for the heinous crime. There was another person in the initial blurry footage, who didn’t stay hidden for long.
They Found Another Guilty Party
A then 58-year-old woman named Joe Faye Witt had also been caught on camera stealing from McKade’s graveyard alongside Boyer. So, cops went to her place of work to confirm that she was the culprit they were looking for. But when they arrived, she didn’t seem the least bit surprised.
She Wasn't a Stranger to the Police
Joe Faye Witt was known in town for only her criminal behavior. A few years prior, she had been arrested for prostitution and food stamp fraud. Sadly, she struggled to get back on her feet after her prior run in with the law, and police knew just where to find her.
The Cops Visited Her at Her Job
Logsdon had gone to Braum’s Restaurant to identify Witt as the second culprit. He spoke to her outside of the establishment. And according to an affidavit filed in the case, she claimed she knew why he had paid her a visit. She also gave more insight as to what she had done.
She Didn’t Think She Did Anything Wrong...
According to the affidavit, she and Boyer had been driving around when he decided to go to the cemetery. Then they got out of their vehicle and walked around. She claimed that Boyer commented on an item and then picked it up. But she assumed it was perfectly okay to do so.
But the Family Disagreed
It seemed obvious to the mourning family that it was a crime to steal other people's belongings, but that was not so evident to the criminals who stole from them. They thought that Witt must have been out of her mind to say something like that, until they heard what she had to say next.
She Claimed They Were Told to Steal
Witt claimed that she and Boyer had read an article from Memorial Park Cemetery asking people to remove items from gravesites so they could mow the lawn. According to the affidavit, they “thought it was okay to just go and take the items off the graves.” But Witt was destined to go to jail anyway.
She Wasn't Aware of the Law
Just because Witt wasn't aware of the law did not mean that she wouldn't be arrested for it. Witt's previous crimes of obtaining food stamps by fraud and using stolen credit and debit cards proved that she wasn't someone who usually followed the rules, and police knew that.
She Was Already Wanted by Police
Witt reportedly had outstanding warrants anyway, so when Enid Police officers came to arrest her at her place of work, the grave robbery offense was like icing on the cake. But what sort of punishment would fit a crime such as the one she and Boyer had committed?
She Was Tried For Her Crimes
Witt's prior crimes left her serving years in prison and when she was released, she went back to her old behavior. Witt was charged with a misdemeanor count of petit larceny and a count of knowingly concealing stolen property. These charges came with a sentence of six months in jail and a hefty fine.
Justice Was Served
Deputy Chief James Logsdon with the North Enid Police Department was happy to see the case closed so the Armstrong family could visit their son without fear once again. He extended his thanks to his team who helped identify the culprits, one of which still had more to say.
The Other Culprit Apologized
When contacted by local news teams, Boyer also didn't realize that he had done anything wrong. But, he later apologized to the family and told the news audience that he didn't think his actions made him an "evil person," just a sadly mistaken one.
The Evidence Didn't Lie
Although the perpetrators weren't aware of the laws they were breaking, the hidden camera didn't lie about their wrongdoings. If it wasn't for Jacob Armstrong's well-thought-out plan, the police may have never caught these criminals.
She Faced Jail Time and Fines
Witt faced up to six months behind bars and a potential fine as high as $500. But at least the Armstrongs could finally find comfort in knowing that those responsible would pay for their crime, and their son could finally rest in peace. But did Boyer and Witt learn from their mistakes?
McKade Could Finally Rest in Peace
Once the culprits were apprehended by police, the Armstrongs felt at peace. They understood that less fortunate people in their town were desperate, which lead them to steal other people's belongings. But, they were happy that the cemetery was safe from their presence once again.
They Hopefully Learned Their Lesson
Boyer and Witt’s actions showed a lack of consideration for the Armstrongs’ feelings. And although Boyer didn’t feel his actions made him evil, he certainly didn’t stop to consider how they might have hurt someone else. But hopefully, he and his cohort will never touch another burial site ever again.
A Hollow Victory
This victory for law enforcement and the Armstrong family made everyone involved happy, but their joy was bittersweet. The Armstrongs are happy that their son can be peaceful at his final resting place, although they wish he was still with his loving family.