Two men admit stealing bronze doors from mausoleums

Posted: January 09, 2014

Two cemetery employees have been charged in the theft of mausoleum doors from grave sites at two Delaware County graveyards and sold them for scrap.

Edward Gach, 23, of Haverford Township, and John Yaunches, 36, of Tinicum Township, have been charged with theft, institutional vandalism, receiving stolen property, and other related crimes. The two were arraigned Saturday, remanded to the Delaware County jail, then released on $10,000 bail.

Efforts to contact the men were not successful.

Michael J. Chitwood, Upper Darby police superintendent, said both men had prescription-drug addictions.

In December, three sets of bronze mausoleum doors and one set of bronze bars were stolen from Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon. Two sets of bronze doors were taken from Arlington Cemetery in Upper Darby, according to officials.

"It is extremely rare," Gary Buss, president of Arlington, said of the thefts. The doors are not easy to break into and remove, he said. "These were guys who knew what they were doing."

He said doors were not really needed for mausoleums because the caskets are secured in crypts.

Reaching family members of the damaged mausoleums was proving difficult for both cemeteries.

Stephanie Brophy, a spokeswoman with the Philadelphia Archdiocese, said letters had been sent to last-known addresses of the families of those buried at Holy Cross, asking whether they wished to replace the doors. Brophy did not know whether the letters would reach the intended recipients. In the meantime, the mausoleums will remain temporarily secured, she said.

The two men, field workers at Holy Cross, have been dismissed from their jobs, she said.

Buss, of Arlington, said his office had contacted funeral directors and the monument company to see whether there were clues to other relatives of the Gerhard-Scheuling family, which installed a site in 1969, and the Robert S. Bennett family, which purchased a mausoleum in 1926.

According to court documents, Gach allegedly brought the remains of the yellow bronze doors to Atlas Traders, a scrap-metal dealer in Sharon Hill. Court documents indicate they received a total of $660 for 357 pounds.

An Atlas Traders employee, according to court records, told police he thought the brass was from the gates of an old mansion.


mschaefer@phillynews.com

610-313-8111

@MariSchaefer

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