Bentonville man accused of putting dead animals on grave

Joseph Alan Stroud
Joseph Alan Stroud

BENTONVILLE -- A man is accused of repeatedly putting dead animals on his neighbor's headstone and grave.

Joseph Alan Stroud, 79, was arrested Monday in connection with defacing objects of public respect. He was released from custody on citation after the felony arrest.

Prosecutors haven't filed a formal charge against Stroud.

Shannon Nobles told Brian Stamps, a Pea Ridge police officer, on July 31 her family found dead animals at the grave site of her grandfather, Fred Allen McKinney, according to the probable cause affidavit. She said the dead animals started appearing May 31.

McKinney died Aug. 24, 2015.

The family first thought the animals were eating the fake flowers and dying, according to the affidavit. But they continued to find the carcasses and realized someone was putting them on the grave site.

They placed cameras directed at the headstone. The cameras captured a person leaving a dead animal on top of the tombstone and walking back to a gray Dodge Journey.

The person was wearing a teal and white woman's jacket, sunglasses and a woman's wig, according to the affidavit.

Nobles told Stamps she was driving by the cemetery one day and noticed a gray Dodge Journey leaving the cemetery and she decided to follow it. When the car stopped in a parking lot, she took photographs and videos of it, according to the affidavit.

Nobles said she recognized Stroud as someone her grandparents knew, and they had farms next to each other for several years, according to the affidavit. Nobles said there was a lawsuit between them, and she thought Stroud lost the case, according to the affidavit.

Nobles said she was jogging one day and saw Stroud drive away from the cemetery. She went to the grave site and found a dead possum on it and eight live baby possums inside one of the flower vases, according to the affidavit.

Nobles said the family removed 16 dead animals from her grandfather's grave, according to the affidavit. One of the animals had left a brown stain on the tombstone after being draped over it.

Stamps was told by a funeral home director the tombstone couldn't be repaired and would cost $2,529 to replace according to the affidavit.

Stroud told Stamps he visited the cemetery to check on his wife's grave, and denied leaving animals on McKinney's grave site, according to the affidavit. Stroud denied he was the person in a photograph Stamps showed him.

Stroud's arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 21 in Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green's courtroom.

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The crime

Defacing objects of public respect is a Class A misdemeanor if the cost of repairing or replacing doesn’t exceed $500. If the cost exceeds $500 the charge would become a felony and the exact amount would determine the classification. The charge is a Class B felony if the cost of repairing or replacing the object is more than $2,500 and if the object damaged is a cemetery or burial monument.

Source: Staff report

Tracy M. Neal can be reached by email at tneal@nwaonline.com or Twitter @NWATracy.