ONLY ON 3: "They should just let him rest in peace" - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

ONLY ON 3: "They should just let him rest in peace"

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JASPER, MARION COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) -- Lynn Jeffery called police and Channel 3 when she found her son's headstone damaged.

Her son's grave was the only one defaced in Marion County's Pine Grove Cemetery.

That's why she believes it was a personal attack, made by the man who a court found responsible for her son's death.   

Two-year-old Dereka Rylee is named after her dad, a man she will never meet. Derek Billingsley died in a car accident seven months before his daughter was born.

"The more I see her, the more I miss him," Derek's mom, Lynn Jeffery says. "She's just like him."

Pine Grove Cemetery is a sacred place for Derek's family. That's why his mom says it was so startling to find his grave vandalized.

"I figure they just stood back here and threw these," Lynn says, as she shows our camera the damage left behind.

Someone broke vases, moved Derek's headstone, and scratched his picture.

Friday, a Marion County detective documented the evidence.

"It's hard for a person to rationalize why anyone would want to vandalize a grave," Detective Gene Hargis tells Channel 3. "It's just utterly ridiculous."

Derek died in 2008, when the car he was riding in crashed.

The man driving was convicted of manslaughter, and ordered to pay for Derek's burial.

Lynn says he fell behind on payments, and she went to a judge.

Days later, he paid up. Then her son's grave was vandalized.

"He would have forgave the man he was in the wreck with, he would have forgave everything," Lynn says. "I'm just not that forgetful."

"And, I guess he just thought he was paying me back," she adds.

Authorities have not named a suspect.

"There are some people of interest we will be talking to but at this point, no concrete suspects," Detective Hargis says.

While detectives follow leads, Lynn picks up the pieces in hopes of restoring her son's final resting place.

"They should just let him rest in peace," she says.

Tennessee law says it is a Class E Felony to willfully destroy, deface, or injure a gravestone.

Lynn is hoping fingerprints can be pulled from the broken vases.

She isn't sure how she will pay for repairs.

To review Tennessee's Public Acts Bill, click here.

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