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Minnesota father, son face charges for tombstone theft

John Albrecht Sr., left, and John Albrecht Jr.1 / 3
John Albrecht Jr.2 / 3
John Albrecht Sr. 3 / 3

MONTEVIDEO, Minn. — A father and son in Montevideo are charged with felony theft for allegedly removing the gravestone from the burial plot of the wife and mother of the two.

John Wendell Albrecht, 74, and John Darron Albrecht, 47, will make their first appearances May 1 in district court. They were arrested April 17 at John Albrecht Sr.'s farm property northwest of Montevideo and were released from custody on their personal recognizance on April 19.

The criminal complaint alleges that a tombstone for Sandra Albrecht, who died July 24, 2016, at age 74, was seized when law officers executed a search warrant at the farm. The senior Albrecht led officers to a remote portion of the farm where the tombstone was found hidden under sticks and logs, according to the criminal complaint.

When law officers arrived at the farm site, Albrecht Sr. initially challenged the validity of the search "at great length and demanded an immediate hearing on it,'' the complaint stated. He also talked in circles, it stated. He subsequently told officers that the crime that occurred was trespassing when the stone was placed on the burial plot without his permission.

Information in the criminal complaint indicates that there is a conflicted relationship between members of the family. Four siblings do not have a relationship with John Albrecht Sr., while one daughter and John Albrecht Jr. do.

When Sandra Albrecht died, the complaint stated that Albrecht Sr. "was very specific that he quickly wanted the body buried." He had also instructed the funeral director not to inform his children about the burial.

The funeral director said it was "quite by chance'' that the children discovered the burial. The four siblings who do not have a relationship with their father subsequently purchased a tombstone for $1,566.78.

Albrecht Sr. had arranged for the burial site in the city-owned Sunset Memorial Cemetery in Montevideo. Property rights to the burial plot are not transferred to the person who arranged for it.

A sexton for the cemetery discovered the gravestone missing April 13. He told authorities that he had seen Albrecht Sr. come into town pulling a small utility trailer two days earlier, the complaint stated.

Authorities also interviewed a motorist who reported that he saw a van matching the description of the one owned by Albrecht St. pulling a trailer. Two men were in the van, and they pulled out of the cemetery in an apparent hurry, he reported. The complaint stated that the tombstone is heavy and would require two people to remove it.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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