Aug. 16, 2010 -- The body of a 9-year-old girl who has been dead for nearly 50 years was mysteriously stolen from her Pennsylvania grave site, leaving her family to grieve for a second time.
The casket holding the remains of Paula Ream is believed to have gone missing sometime between Aug. 12 and Aug. 13 from the Babyland section of the Riverview Cemetery in Lancaster, Pa., officials said. Paula was buried in August 1962.
"This is an active investigation, and I don't know of this happening in the 20 years I've been here in or around any of our burial parks," Lancaster Police Sgt. Tim Fry said.
The cemetery has no gate. "This is pretty bad," Fry said of the theft.
The incident has left Paula's siblings devastated and helpless.
"When [police] came and said that the casket was stolen from my sister's grave, I just thought that I don't know anyone sick enough to do something like that," said Faye Hamm, 71.
"What kind of person would do that? A normal person wouldn't do such a thing, someone has to be mentally sick to do such a thing," she said.
"I remember the day we buried her it was bad, but not as bad as this," Hamm said. "For anyone who has lost someone, you can just imagine losing that person twice."
Hamm, who is one of two older sisters, said she dropped out of school to care for Paula, who was born with cerebral palsy.
"She wasn't healthy from birth," Hamm said of her sister. "We carried her around and fed her by spoon and she wore diapers.
"We were very close, when I was 16 I dropped out of school to take care of her while my mother worked."
Family Had Visited Paula Ream's Grave a Week Prior to Theft
Hamm said that she and her other sister visited the grave site Friday after speaking to police because they thought the theft was "a mistake."
Having visited the grave just a week prior, Hamm said the site was dug up and "covered" by the cemetery staff.
"My sister is buried right beside my mother and father and between my aunt and uncle," Hamm said. "We don't know why whoever did this would pick the one in the middle."
Asked if she had any theories, Hamm said she suspects the theft is "cult-related" and is somehow connected to Friday the 13th.
A representative of Riverview Cemetery said the investigation was is ongoing.
Lancaster Police said that there have been several tips called in from the public but declined to specify whether any of the leads have been fruitful.
In the meantime, Hamm said, she and her family will pray for their sister's return. "There's nothing I can do but grieve and miss her more," she said.