Relatives of a World War II veteran whose grave was desecrated last month said Tuesday they hoped a reward of up to $10,000 will help "solve this senseless crime."
Authorities announced the reward Tuesday for information leading to the arrest or conviction of the person or persons who disturbed the grave of Edward John Redhead, a Minneapolis man dead for more than 40 years, at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said that investigators have identified neither suspects nor a possible motive in the nearly three weeks since extensive digging was discovered at the gravesite.
However, he revealed one curious object that was found nearby: a small black folding knife encrusted with dirt that he said appeared to have the name WALLY scratched into its pockmarked handle.
Maj. Kit Carver, head of investigations for the Sheriff's Office, said the knife was one of "several items" found "several gravestones" from the grave, which is near Post Road in a well-lit area of the sprawling federal cemetery.
The knife was "of interest to us," Carver said, because it was nearby and determined not to be a memento left at another grave.
Carver said that investigators are still going through video footage shot that night by security cameras.
The Sheriff's Office is conducting the investigation along with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, which will provide half the reward.
Stanek said the vandalism amounts to a felony and could carry federal charges.
In a statement, Julie Callerstrom, who is married to Redhead's son Richard, said that the family "appreciates the efforts being made to solve this senseless crime. Hopefully a monetary reward will lead to information valuable to the case."
Redhead, who died of cancer at age 48 in 1971, "was a kind, hardworking man who had no enemies," the statement said. "This was a needless and disrespectful act that never should have happened."
Callerstrom said Redhead served in the U.S. Navy as a torpedo mate on a PT boat. She said the family had no idea why his grave had been singled out for desecration. "They had the wrong grave, whatever they were doing," she said.
Reinterred with full honors
On the morning of July 12, a maintenance worker discovered that the grave had been disturbed. Stanek said they believe at least two people were involved and used shovels because of the amount of soil removed.
"This wasn't something that was done in 10 minutes. This was thoroughly dug up," he said.
Stanek and Carver declined to say whether the vault or casket had been disturbed. The headstone was not damaged.
Redhead's remains, which were exhumed as part of the investigation, were reinterred last week with full military honors.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 763-525-6216 or 911. Tips can also be submitted to CrimeStoppers at www.crimestoppersmn.org, or made anonymously by calling 1-800-222-8477.
Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this story.
Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455