An Ohio woman was charged Thursday with stealing a stuffed duck from a 14-month-old boy's grave after police released surveillance video of the theft.
Frieda Kay Shade, 54, of Mansfield, plans to plead not guilty to the misdemeanor charge though she admits taking the animal left on Hayden "Tank" Cole Sheridan's burial plot for Easter, her lawyer said.
"Our sympathy goes out to the deceased child and the family," said the attorney, Charles Robinson. "[The video] shows physically what a person does. It does not show what is going on her mind. What we need to know is what did she do and why and that will be determined later."
Ontario, Ohio, police said Shade told investigators she saw a loose dog at the cemetery and feared it would destroy the duck. No dog was seen on the video, Detective Jon Sigler said.
In fact, the duck wasn't the first sentimental item that was stolen.
Police installed the surveillance camera at Mansfield Memorial Park after Tank's parents, Jaclyn and Scott Sheridan, reported that someone was regularly taking the toys and lights they left there.
On Saturday, about four hours after the Sheridans decorated the grave for the holiday, the camera recorded a woman casually pick up the large yellow duck, look around and walk away.
Tips about the woman's identity poured in after the police posted the video on their Facebook page, and the duck was found the next morning near the cemetery.
Shade turned herself in Wednesday night.
"I'm glad she's been caught," Jaclyn Sheridan said, adding that she does not buy the "dog" explanation Shade gave cops.
"I think It's a bunch of bull crap," Sheridan told NBC News.
She said that the family had been decorating Tank's grave since the little boy, a triplet who was born a micro-preemie and had a number of medical problems, died during a nap in 2007.
His surviving siblings participated in the ritual and were upset by the thefts. Each incident caused "anger and then depression at the thought of not being able to put something on my son's grave without someone taking it," the mom said.
Sheridan plans to attend Shade's next court date and said that if she could speak to her, "I would just ask her why and tell her a little more about my son and what she is doing to us and to his brother and sister.
First published April 24 2014, 1:17 PM