Miami Nation handles reburial of remains stolen from burial site

A charging document against Toby Lee Thacker, one of four individuals prosecuted in Ohio for violating the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

The Miami Nation is overseeing the reburial of remains that were stolen from a grave site in Ohio.

The ancestors, including children, were dug up in Jackson County in November 2012, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. They were buried with cradle boards and DNA tests confirmed a link to present-day tribes, authorities said.

Three men -- David E. Skeens, 40, Brian K. Skeens, 49, and Toby Lee Thacker, 56 -- admitted they sold the remains in violation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, a federal law. A fourth man, Mark M. Beatty, 57, previously admitted he bought the ancestors, also in violation of NAGPRA.

The remains consisted of "skulls and multiple individuals, (likely adults and children")," according to a document filed in Thacker's case.

“Sadly, there is a black market for this,” Emily Truelove, a spokesperson for the Miami Nation, whose ancestral territory includes Ohio, told The Grove Sun in August 2015 when Beatty pleaded guilty for his role in the crime.

The case is the first criminal enforcement of NAGPRA in the Southern District of Ohio, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

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