Cemetery President Hirum Bertoch says the plates vanished overnight sometime during the spring of 2012.
“These are brothers and babies and war heros,” said Bertoch.
Peterson is accused of breaking the plates into small pieces to sell them to scrap dealers. One dealer asked questions, call police and Peterson was taken into custody.
Police were able to fit the broken brass pieces together like a puzzle to reveal where they were stolen.
“For a couple of hundred dollars of scrap they’ve cost a family real emotional damage,” said Bertoch.
Families are devastated, angry and frustrated the symbol of their loved one is gone forever.
“We’re talking upwards of $30 to $40 thousand of damage for what this individual would have gotten a couple of hundreds dollars in scrap—just absolutely thoughtless,” Bertoch continued.
Peterson is facing a felony charge. Stealing anything from a grave is considered a felony crime.