Police in Wisconsin say a dead man was robbed twice -- once of his dying wish to buried with his beloved guitar and again when a grounds worker at the cemetery responsible for his burial stole the guitar.
Steven Conard, 39, the grounds superintendent of Allouez Catholic Cemetery and Chapel Mausoleum, was charged Monday in Brown County Circuit Court with theft from a corpse, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported. If convicted, he faces 10 years in prison and a fine of $25,000.
Conard, who plays in a band, reportedly confessed to stealing the Fender Telecaster when confronted at his Green Bay home by Brown County Sheriff's Department deputies, according to The Smoking Gun.
The guitar was the favorite of Randall Jordan, who died last Monday at the age of 67. Jordan's live-in girlfriend said Jordan often said he wanted to be buried with his Fender Telecaster.
"It was his one wish to have it with him," Shirley Schuyler said. "Whether he said it jokingly or not, he always said it, and that's what we tried to do."
However, Conard also took an extreme liking to the guitar.
In fact, according to court documents, Conard knew he had to have the guitar when he first laid eyes on it, according to a co-worker's testimony. "That's a Telly, a really expensive guitar. I have to have that guitar," he allegedly said as the guitar was still in the arms of the dead man. "It's too expensive to be in a crypt."
Saying those remarks out loud is what made Conard’s co-worker suspicious that he might try to steal the guitar. And when the co-worker checked inside the casket the next day, he saw that Jourdan’s beloved $2,000 guitar was missing and immediately contacted his supervisor.
When police arrived to Conard’s home and told him that the guitar was important to the family, he simply lowered his head and admitted that the guitar was inside.
"This isn’t something I normally do," Conard said, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "I just have a respect for fine musical instruments."
Jourdan’s son, William, told police that his father had played guitar for over 40 years and that the Fender Telecaster was his "pride and joy."