Teacher Charged With Disturbing Corpse
Friday, October 6, 2006 9:24 PM EDT
The Associated Press
ROCKY GAP, Va. (AP) — A high school science teacher is charged with breaking into a century-old funeral vault, handling the remains of a corpse, and taking photographs of two students holding the bones inside the crypt.
Authorities have charged Candace Longworth, 31, of Bastian, with a felony charge of disturbing and defiling a dead person from a place of burial and two misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The teenagers have been charged as juveniles.
"It's not anything anyone would call school-related," said Tazewell County Commonwealth's Attorney Dennis Lee. "It's just bizarre."
Longworth has been suspended from her job as a biology and earth science teacher at Rocky Gap High School in Bland County pending the outcome of the legal proceedings, according principal Robert Morehead. She is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Oct. 23.
Longworth could not be reached for comment.
Lee said the Sheriff's Department began an investigation after it was contacted by the school administration when least one of the two teenage girls began showing pictures of herself inside the vault holding the bones.
The vault, which is partially below ground, is in a cemetery in Pocahontas, a town on the West Virginia border established in 1884 for 114 coal miners killed in a mine explosion.
Authorities allege the teacher and students entered the vault through a large crack. No bones appear to have been taken, Lee said.
Pocahontas Mayor Anita Brown said the town has taken steps to restore the historic cemetery. She said she was attempting to contact descendants of the person buried in the vault.
The felony charge against Longworth carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.