Lights taken from grave 10 years after son’s death

News editor

When Larry and Yvonne Cushenberry of rural Durham discovered on Oct. 14 that decorative solar-powered lights had been taken from the grave of their son, Brett Cushenberry, at Durham Park Cemetery, they knew it couldn’t be a coincidence.

“Somebody took them on the day that he died, the 10th anniversary of the day that he died,” Yvonne said.

Brett Cushenberry was 21 when he died from injuries sustained in a bull-riding accident on Oct. 14, 2003. A bull stepped on his chest, and even though he was wearing a protective vest, it ruptured the left ventricle of his heart.

Since then, his parents have maintained his grave site, decorating it with lights and items symbolizing things that were important to Brett.

They were at Brett’s grave on Oct. 13, so they knew the theft happened Oct. 14. Larry Cushenberry said he suspected the theft was somebody’s way of trying to get back at him, but he couldn’t be sure of the exact reason.

“There’s been stuff out here 10 years with no problem,” Lary said. “The disrespect shown to our son and to our family is unbelievable.”

The Cushenberrys were sure it was a targeted theft, because they didn’t see any disturbance at other graves.

The lights that were taken included two in the shape of a cross and an angel, as well as a glass globe and four smaller plain lights.

“I could always see his pretty lights” while driving past the cemetery on K-15, Yvonne said.

Since the theft, the Cushenberries have replaced the stolen lights. Incidentally, a light that hadn’t been stolen — one that hadn’t been working — began working again as soon as the others were taken, Larry said.

Durham Park Township Clerk Gary Unruh said the township has no rules against lights or other decorations on graves.

“We don’t touch those,” Unruh said.

He said the township board members were saddened to hear about the theft and would report any information they receive to law enforcement.

Larry said he was confident the facts would come to light, because Durham is a small community and somebody is sure to know something.

“This should never happen in any cemetery,” he said. “It is a sacred place.”

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