By By Arthur McLean Editor
Jewel Singleton cried when she discovered it was missing. Her son's NASCAR replica of Dale Earnhardt's famous No. 3 Chevrolet was old and tattered from the weather, but someone decided to steal it anyway.
It wasn't stolen from the yard, or from the family home. It was stolen from her son, Darral Walker's grave.
Darral was only 17 years old when he died in a car accident on August 7, 2002. His body now rests in Atmore's Oak Hill Cemetery on the north side of town.
"It's not right for them to steal things from the graves of the dead," Singleton said.
This isn't the first thing that's gone missing from Darral's grave. Over time, half a dozen items have been taken from the grave site, including a vase full of flowers and an angel figurine.
Everything was placed there out of love, sorrow and loss, Singleton said. Now, she's offering a reward for the return of the personal items.
"I'm sick and tired of them taking stuff. It's not worth much, but it means a lot to me," she said. "I'm no the only one who's had things stolen out there."
While she may not be the only one, she said she's not sure who's taking the items, but that her son's grave seems to be a repeated target. Other decorated grave sites nearby have gone untouched after items were taken from her son's grave, Singleton said.
It might be other young people her son knew, but she said she can't be sure. "Everybody knew Darral. He played on the football team at Northview and he worked at Food Fair. He was very friendly to people," she said.
Singleton, and Darral's girlfriend have gone out to the cemetery many times over the year to tend for the grave together. "His girlfriend is just as upset about this as I am," Singleton said.
"It's not the time or the money that went into it, it's the love," she said.
With Easter nearing, many graves throughout the cemetery have been decorated, mostly with silk flowers, though others have small mementos carefully placed about them.
For Singleton, she will keep working at her son's grave, but she wants the stolen items back, and is offering a no-question's asked reward for them.
"My child is dead. It's not right to steal from someone who's dead."