Grave robbing due to ghosts?

Here is a rather interesting article that I found in the Albuquerque Journal (14 February, 1939). Santa Barbara cemetery has several ghost stories attached to it and I am always interested on how these stories began and evolved over time. While I can only speculate, this may be the origin of some of those tales.


Explanation of grave diggers is Doubted by Officials

District ‘Attorney and Sheriff order Pedro Gutierrez and Mateo Padilla Held In County Jail

 ‘My mistake,” replies one, told sex of body.

He Had Claimed He Was Told by Spirits to Move Nephew’s Remains; But He Dug Up Girl’s Body

Pedro Gutierrez, who, with Mateo Padilla, is being held for Investigation In connection with the robbery of a grave in an old, abandoned graveyard In Martlneztown, continued to stick to his story Thursday night that in angel appeared to him in his dreams and told him to move the body of his nephew.

The second questioning of Gutierrez by District Attorney Eugene 0, Lujan and his assistant attorney, M. J. McGuinness, came after officers had excavated and refilled the grave, the men are alleged to have been attempting to rob when arrested.

Approximately 150 people gathered on the sandhills around the little burying-place to watch the excavation under the eyes of Mr. Guinness and Deputy Sheriffs Martin Hayden and Ben Olguln. Two laborers did the digging. The coffin was found to be a pine box such as a carpenter might have made. The bottoms of two shoes of children’s size, with high lace tops which had fallen off, were found In the coffin with a number of other bones. The mystery of the “bald” skull found in the sack Wednesday night was explained by finding of the scalp, which had fallen away. A ribbon bow was still entwined In the hair, and this, with the high lace shoes, indicated that the remains were those of a young girl. The bones were all small and obviously of child’s size. The contents of the coffin were taken to the sheriff’s office, to be placed with the skull and bones recovered the night before.

Only three or four graves were in the burying-place, and Benedlcto Sandoval, former Presbyterian pastor at Santa Barbara, told the Investigators that no one had been buried In It since 1915. The cemetery had been transferred at that time to a location farther east.

“Move my body, for I’m being stepped on,” the spirit told Gutierrez, according to the man’s story to the attorneys. As a result of the spirit’s message, the man said he visioned the Springer Transfer teams stepping on the body of his nephew and for that reason decided to move the body. The Springer gravel pit adjoins the old graveyard, which undertakers say has not been in use for 15 years or more. Gutierrez, however, contends that his nephew, “Johnny Sedillo,” died about eight or ten years ago when he was eight years old.

When the district attorney’s office informed the man that it was the skull and bones of a girl, instead of those of a boy, which had been excavated, the man merely replied: “My mistake,” evidently trying to Indicate that he had dug at the wrong grave.

On second questioning, Thursday night, Padilla told officers that Gutierrez had asked him to dig up the body of his son, that, he wanted to move It. He said he had gone to the old graveyard merely to help Gutierrez.

The district attorney’ office and the sheriff’s office were still trying to solve the reason for the men’s dinging, all doubting the stories as told by Gutierrez and Padilla. The men are to be kept In Jail pending further Investigation.

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