Cemetery Worker Allegedly Steals Guitar From Casket
Collectors will sometimes go pretty far to get their hands on a desirable guitar, especially if it belonged to someone famous. Kurt Cobain's Mosrite Gospel fetched $117,500 at auction, Jimi Hendrix's scorched Fender Stratocaster brought over half a million dollars, and two anonymous buyers paid $850,000 and $700,000 respectively for Jerry Garcia's "Tiger" and "Wolf" guitars.
But a Wisconsin musician's desire for one allegedly led him to take it from the casket of Army veteran just before his body was to be interred at Allouez Catholic Cemetery in Green Bay.
Steven Conard, cemetery worker by day and band member by night, allegedly stole the cream-colored Fender Telecaster from the casket of William Jourdan, 67, who had been playing guitar for more than 40 years. Jourdan was so devoted to his $2,000 instrument that he often expressed his wish to be buried with it, reports Smoking Gun.
After his death, Jourdan's casket was moved into a mausoleum, and the funeral director told Conard (pictured above) and his co-worker, James Lang, that the family wanted to verify that the guitar was still in the casket before the burial chamber was sealed.
Lang, in speaking to deputies, reportedly quoted Conard as saying, "That's a Telly, a really expensive guitar. I have to have that guitar. It's too expensive to be in a crypt." Lang purportedly shrugged it off when Conard asked whether "he would say anything if he took the guitar."
Authorities said that when Lang later checked the casket, the guitar was gone, and was found soon after "in plain view" on Conard's living room floor. Police returned the guitar to Jourdan's family, and "final entombment" occurred on Saturday, according to a cemetery press release, the same day that Conard was arrested and charged with the felony "theft from person or corpse."
When the police first came to Conard's door he denied taking the instrument. When the deputy then told him that the family just wanted the guitar back, Conard "lowered his head," according to a Circuit Court criminal complaint, and handed the stolen axe over.
"This isn't something I normally do," Conard allegedly said. "I just have a respect for fine musical instruments."
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