Three charged with desecrating Confederate officer’s grave

Published 11:35 am Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Three men have been arrested and charged in connection with the June desecration of a Confederate grave at the Gillette family cemetery east of Courtland.

Kyle Sinclair Burks, 21, Aaron Richard Howard, 20, and Justin Thomas Rainey, 23, were charged with one count each of violation of sepulcher and attempted grand larceny. Southampton County authorities who made the arrest would not speculate on the men’s motive.

The three are accused of digging up the grave of Maj. Joseph Ezra Gillette, the man for whom the Urquhart-Gillette Camp 1471 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans was named.

Gillette served as a captain and then a major in the 13th Virginia Cavalry. He died at his family’s ancestral home, “Cedar Lawn,” on Nov. 1, 1863, from wounds he received at Brandy Station. He is buried in a small family cemetery that is maintained by the local SCV camp.

Detective Cpl. Richard Morris, a spokesman for the Southampton Sheriff’s Office, said after the incident that vandals had dug 4 feet into the grave and there was “nothing to indicate” that the vandals had reached Gillette’s remains.