MIDDLEBURG, Fla. — Deputies in Clay County are trying to figure out who -- or what -- dug up an infant's grave in Middleburg.
The Fowler Cemetery, where the baby was laid to rest, is privately owned. There are more than a dozen headstones behind a home there.
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The family found several headstones vandalized and the infant's remains removed from the grave.
Authorities cannot tell at this point if an animal or a human removed the child.
The late child's uncle called deputies after making the discovery. He was taking his mother, Maude Burroughs Jackson, to visit the cemetery, where many of their relatives are buried.
The baby, Makayla Merriweather, died in her mother's womb in May 2007.
"I saw him crying," said Jackson. "He said, ‘I can't look at it! I can't look at it!' I said, ‘Look at what? What's going on?' And he said, ‘Makayla is on the ground.'"
Vandals overturned several headstones and shattered monuments at the cemetery.
"I watched so many people today pass by and just cry," Jackson said.
Investigators said people disturbed Makayla's gravesite, but they can't rule out the possibility of an animal removing the remains.
They said the grave was too shallow to determine who, or what, may have pulled out the remains.
"It's like re-burying her all over again," Jackson said.
Fowler Cemetery is sacred ground for Jackson's family. Her husband is buried there, and so are many others from the Hill Top community in Middleburg.
Ties run deep there, and so does the hope for justice.
"I just hope whoever did this will be brave enough to stand up and say, ‘I made a mistake. I did it,'" Jackson said.
"The desecration of a grave is a second-degree felony and a personal offense to me as the Sheriff of our county," Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels said, "I will exhaust every resource to find out who perpetrated this crime and will follow this case to its conclusion in court."
Cox Media Group