Teen Gets Prison For Sawing Head Off Corpse
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June 29, 2006
ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. --A Morrisville teenager has been sentenced to prison for opening a tomb and cutting the head off a corpse.
Nickolas Buckalew, 18, sentenced to between 1 and 7 years Wednesday, was given credit for the 14 months he was held in prison awaiting trial. He has been sent to a psychiatric facility in Cuttingsville for further treatment.
Buckalew agreed to plead guilty to two felony counts: intentionally removing or injuring a tombstone, and intentionally disinterring and carrying away the remains of a human body.
He was sentenced at Vermont District Court in St. Johnsbury because a utility problem shut down the courthouse in Hyde Park.
Authorities said Buckalew went to a cemetery in Morrisville on April 8, 2005, and opened an above-ground tomb. He removed the casket lid and used a hacksaw to cut the head off a corpse. He also stole eyeglasses and a bow tie from the casket. The head was placed in a plastic bag, which he used to take it home.
Witnesses said Buckalew told them he intended to bleach the skull and use it as a bong to smoke marijuana, according to an affidavit by Morristown Patrolman Ryan Bjerke.
The witnesses went to the tomb to find out whether Buckalew was telling the truth. They found it had been opened and there was a headless body inside before reporting the incident to police.
The skull and other items were discovered after Buckalew's home was searched by police.
Buckalew is being transferred to Spring Lake Ranch in Cuttingsville, which is a residential program for psychiatric treatment. A psychiatrist testified that Buckalew suffered from bipolar disorder.
Buckalew said in court that he wanted to get help.
"It was a horrendous thing that I did. What I did was appalling," he said. "I didn't think of the victim. ... I want to get help for my mental problems."
Information from: The Caledonian-Record, http://www.caledonian-record.com
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