Eastern WA grave marker thief claims to be "Satan worshipper"

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by Associated Press & Ashley Korslien

KREM.com

Posted on May 14, 2012 at 5:14 PM

Updated Monday, May 14 at 6:42 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- A 48-year-old man accused of taking tombstones and statuettes from Eastern Washington cemeteries is scheduled to be arraigned this week in Stevens County.

Media reports show that Terry Verhaag, of Valley, Wash., faces three counts of unlawful removal of a grave marker. Verhaag told authorities he merely wanted to bless the grave markers with holy water.

Authorities in Stevens County recovered more than 70 headstones in Verhaag's pickup, in his yard and inside buildings on his property. The items were taken from cemeteries in Chewelah and Valley, Wash.

Court documents show Verhaag claimed to have known all the deceased and they were family.  He also allegedly told authorities stories about vampires and human sacrifices. 

In a court affidavit, witnesses say Verhaag talked about having “bodies and bones in bags.”  They also say he claimed to be a “Satan worshipper” and referred to himself as Jesus Christ.  Verhaag’s family says he is not a worshipper, but is very mentally ill.  They say Verhaag spent five years at Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake.

Verhaag was released on his own recognizance.  He is not allowed to leave Stevens County or set foot in a cemetery.  He will appear in Stevens County Superior Court Tuesday at 9 a.m.
 

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