Authorities now say grave marker found in Council Bluffs was not stolen


October 13th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A grave marker belonging to a 6-month old child who died in 1986 apparently wasn’t stolen after all. Last week, employees of the Council Bluffs recycling Center found a plaque with the name Megan Alaine Kjellberg, in a recycling bin. A report Thursday in the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil stated Council Bluffs Police Capt. Terry LeMaster and other authorities, feared someone had stolen the marker in an attempt to sell it for scrap metal. LeMaster said area cemeteries and funeral directors were checked, as well as funeral and obituary databases and reports about stolen items.  He wondered if someone might have stolen the marker thinking it was solid copper. When it turned out to be only copper coated, it was tossed into a recycling bin.

While an initial attempt by authorities to find where the marker belongs failed, newspaper and broadcast reports  asking citizens for help in locating the child’s burial site paid off. LeMaster told the Nonpareil that they received several phone calls, some coming from as far away as Wisconsin.  But one call in particular solved the mystery. A person left a message asking authorities to check the website of Forest Lawn Cemetery in Omaha.

The Forest Lawn Cemetery has an alphabetical online record of everyone buried at the facility, and there in the K section was the name Megan Alaine Kjellberg. According to the cemetery, she is buried in the “Garden of the Apostles,” on the eastern edge of the property one row back of a lane that passes through the section. LeMaster said his department called the cemetery, which confirmed the plot number. After checking the records, it was determined the girls’ family had placed a new headstone on the grave in 1999 and had taken possession of the old one.

It’s still not clear how the removed marker made it to the recycling bin, though. If the family does not respond to the calls from police asking them to claim the marker, it would be considered found property and processed accordingly. LeMaster told the paper he was happy to know there isn’t a child’s grave out there without a marker, and that concerned citizens worked in concert to make sure that is wasn’t the case.