Newfoundland man pleads not guilty in case of skeleton stolen from graveyard

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A young Newfoundland man pleaded not guilty Wednesday in the strange case of skeletal remains taken from an Anglican cemetery.

Lucas Dawe, 20, appeared briefly from prison via video link on charges of interfering with human remains and possession of stolen property — namely, the remains.

The Crown also amended the charges to date from November 2017 to April 2019, suggesting the remains may have been removed more than a year before their discovery last month on a recreational trail. The charges initially alleged the crimes occurred “on or about” April 5, 2019.

The bizarre crime has gripped the community since police launched an investigation into “quite old” partial skeletal remains found on April 6.

The remains were traced back to an Anglican cemetery in Conception Bay South, a town of about 26,000 people just west of St. John’s.

The province’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Nash Denic, told The Canadian Press in April that the remains were taken from a mausoleum-style tomb and belonged to someone who died in the 1800s.

Denic said at the time it was the first alleged grave robbery he’d seen in the province.

Dawe, a Conception Bay South resident, is also charged with failing to comply with a court order, stemming from earlier charges.

A trial has been set for July 9.

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