Texas Teenagers Charged After Discovering Suicide Victim, Stealing Jewelry, and Then Posting Images on Social Media

We often discuss novel criminal charges or cases.  The latest such case involves the arrest of two teenage girls in Texas after they removed a gold necklace off the chest of a dead man found in a drainage ditch. The charge is “theft from a human corpse.”The unidentified man is believed to have hung himself in the ditch near a local gas station. KSAT-TV reported that the girls spotted the body and removed the chain. They then posted images on social media. Those images of the scene before the arrival of the police proved key to the charges. One, according to FOX San Antonio, showed the 17-year-old taking a gold necklace off the dead man’s chest. She was later identified as Bethany Martin. The other girl is unidentified due to her juvenile status.

The girls surrendered the pendant to police. (The gold chain does not appear to have been recovered).

The state law states that a theft is a felony if:

(A) the value of the property stolen is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000, or the property is less than 10 head of sheep, swine, or goats or any part thereof under the value of $30,000;

(B) regardless of value, the property is stolen from the person of another or from a human corpse or grave, including property that is a military grave marker;

Thus, the item can be virtually worthless but still constitute a felony under the law. This was obviously not worthless. Moreover, the sentimental value of the pendant to the family is worth more than any market value, which is the obvious point of the law. Many objects on a corpse are likely to carry far more emotive or personal value than market value. This is an area where the criminal code recognizes such personal costs for objects that fall below the threshold felony levels for valuation.

16 thoughts on “Texas Teenagers Charged After Discovering Suicide Victim, Stealing Jewelry, and Then Posting Images on Social Media”

  1.  the value of the property stolen is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000, or the property is less than 10 head of sheep, swine, or goats or any part thereof under the value of $30,000;
    **************************
    Begging the appropos question here: What if the property is stolen by a herd of swine?

  2. we should enforce the law, as something is clearly keeping the occurrence rare.

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    It’s a Black Panther repellent. I have been safe and sound since I started using in. No encounters at all. If you get to me within 24 hours I’ll throw in a free trial size of Black Adder repellent. Another winner in my experience.

  3. “theft from a human corpse.”

    They’re pikers, compared to the government taking some 40% of a human corpse’s estate.

    1. Not true (from Wikipedia)

      If an asset is left to a spouse or a federally recognized charity, the tax usually does not apply. In addition, a maximum amount, varying year by year, can be given by an individual, before and/or upon their death, without incurring federal gift or estate taxes:[3] $5,340,000 for estates of persons dying in 2014[4] and 2015,[5] $5,450,000 (effectively $10.90 million per married couple, assuming the deceased spouse did not leave assets to the surviving spouse) for estates of persons dying in 2016.[6] Because of these exemptions, it is estimated that only the largest 0.2% of estates in the U.S. will pay the tax.[7] For 2017, the exemption increased to $5.49 million. In 2018, the exemption doubled to $11.18 million per taxpayer due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. As a result, only about 2,000 estates per year in the US are currently liable for federal estate tax.[8]”.

      Many states abolished the Estate tax altogether.

      1. BTW: with clever estate planning, you’d not owe any Estate Taxes because you could structure your assets so that they pass upon death to someone else, so they wouldn’t go into an estate and be subject to taxation.

  4. I can’t imagine any kid doing anything like that. I grew up in a different generation, where at least there was some respect given….kids today are evil and it keeps getting worse.

  5. Wrong is wrong. America is in a free fall morally, socially, politically and economically.

    1. America has been in free fall ever since the 60s. Starting with the 65 immigration act. That the Republican Party could could have done some thing about when they held both houses back when Trump was first elected. America has been in freefall ever since divorce skyrocketed and sexually transmitted diseases from a extremely promiscuous generation, that stopped filling up church pews.

      Under the baby boomer generation church attendance has recorded the lowest levels, and it still drops a little each year. And it’s been in freefall ever since God was taken out of schools and when writing role was allowed to be rationalized and minimized. I can keep going and, I feel certain that you could add to it.

    2. Spoiled child syndrome. Apparently, this has been scientifically tested and confirmed: Destruction Of Credibility – And Competence: Ever hear of MouseTopia? People need a suitable religion (i.e. behavioral protocol) to guide their development: a moral philosophy in a universal frame of reference. Its relativistic sibling sibling “ethics”, and its politically congruent cousin “law”, are necessary, but insufficient to mitigate social progress. Meanwhile, whether it is stoking diversity that breeds adversity, conflict between men and women, intergenerational rebellions, we expend an enormous amount of energy in unproductive, self-consuming cycles and practices, an ouroboros period of transition without a future.

  6. Stupid kids do stupid things…I did…but I did not have social media…or remove anything from a dead body…suppose the kids just took the necklace to a pawn shop and got some money and they did not tell anyone…and the pawn shop sold it to a customer who left the state and then it was given or sold to someone else…would they eventually be caught if the necklace was lost or stolen or melted down for the precious metal content and made into something else?…but this leads to another hypothetical situation…a mortuary…if the family wants valuables to be buried in the casket will they actually know if they were?…is it a crime or just profit for the business?…now suppose they are cremated…and have metal parts like gold or titanium or silver…I bet you again that it is just pure profit for the business and they do NOT pay taxes on that profit!

  7. To me laws are needed to deter anti social behavior. While pilfering from a corpse is depraved, I cant see the value of utilizing the criminal justice system to enforce this law, to assure the actions do not repeat. Unless they are prosecuting this 100 times a year, it has to be rare. A personal weakness intersecting a rare occurrence. There has to be better things to occupy ourselves.

    1. To me laws are needed to deter anti social behavior…Unless they are prosecuting this 100 times a year, it has to be rare.

      Huh? Did you consider it might be rare because of the law? Regardless, we should enforce the law, as something is clearly keeping the occurrence rare.

      1. Huh? Did you consider it might be rare because of the law

        A little shy on reading comprehension. I question the need for such a law. Just because it gets into the code, doesn’t mean its necessary. The only rational I can come up with is grave robbing, and that to is a thing of the past. Today Its a rare event to put something of value in caskets. When the coffee shop talk say’s ‘there ought to be a law’. there shouldn’t be.

        Turning this young person into a felon serves society how?

        1. A little shy on reading comprehension.

          Hence the Huh?

          I question the need for such a law. Just because it gets into the code, doesn’t mean its necessary.

          I’m certainly not an advocate of more laws and/or more regulations. But this law didn’t turn the young person into a felon, the actions of the young person did. And if this law is rarely prosecuted, then what is the net benefit of removing it?

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