Teens Rob Grave & Bring Remains to Party? Is This a Joke?
edited: Tuesday, July 22, 2003
By Anastacia Lee
Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2003
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Once upon a time, I was proud to say that I attended Patchogue - Medford High School. Now I'm not so sure.
When I was in high school, there was always something going on. We had a very large class and, while some tended to studies, most of us were animals! Rarely did a week go by without something interesting happening. That was almost 10 years ago. Apparently, not much has changed. The only difference is that we at least had some wits about us.
On January 29, 2003, three Patchogue-Medford High School students were arrested and accused of committing a crime so horrible that it's almost incomprehensible. Patchogue-Medford, two separate towns' students combined into one school, grades 10 through 12, is located in Suffolk County, Long Island. Yes, that's New York.
Some time ago, back in November, three teens allegedly decided to take some shovels to a historic cemetery, Cedar Grove, in Patchogue. Set back and surrounded by apartments, Cedar Grove Cemetery, approximately 250 years old, is very quiet and not often visited. There are some fairly new burials there, but the graveyard mostly consists of those from one or two centuries ago. Of the three teens, two, Michael Herz, 18, and Michael Sossi, 17, are said to have set their eyes on a trio of sites before beginning to pry off the heavy stone casket lids. According to news reports, when they were done they took the remains and placed them in the trunk of the car being driven by the third teen, Patrick O'Rourke, 19.
Later that night, Herz and Sossi are said to have brought the remains to a friend's party. While there are no pictures for proof, it has been rumored that the boys either dressed up the remains or at minimum, put a Darth Vader mask on one of the skulls. Apparently, none of the teens from the party told an adult about the incident. It has also been mentioned by one of Herz's classmates that, at one point, he had one skeleton under his bed and another in the trunk of his car. After a few weeks of holding this big secret in, Herz started to slip, according to Det. Lt. Edward Reilly of the Fifth Precinct in Patchogue. Apparently, he was talking about it to some friends at school when the conversation was overheard by one of his teachers. When she asked him about it, he gave in and told her everything.
According to Newsday.com, police contacted Herz, who admitted to them what he had done and led the police to Sunrise Highway in Patchogue. On December 13, 2002, Herz showed them where they threw the remains down a drainage conduit in plastic bags underneath the highway. The remains were taken and examined by a forensic pathologists lab to determine who they were. It was determined that they were the bodies of people buried in 1897, 1926 and 1933. All three bodies were returned to their proper graves.
Herz and Sossi are being charged with the felonies cemetery desecration, body stealing and opening graves, says Newsday.com. The youths face a maximum of 1 and 1/3 to 4 years in prison if they are convicted.
O'Rourke, a college student who also works as a veterinarian's assistant, allegedly drove the skeletons from the cemetery and is being charged with receiving a stolen body, a misdemeanor. He faces up to one year in prison, if convicted.
As of Wednesday, January 29, 2003, Herz is free on $20,000 bail and Sossi is free on $2,500. The other alleged accomplice is free on a desk appearance ticket. They will now have to face the judicial system to determine their appropriate punishment.
Once upon a time, I was proud to say that I attended Patchogue-Medford High School. Now, I'm just not so sure. While this story has some differences in it depending on who is telling it, it is still a gruesome act that I think is intolerable. For more on this story you can visit Newsday.com or NYPost.com.