Stolen: Paula Ream’s remains and coffin

The disturbed grave of Paula Ream in the Babyland section of Riverview Cemetery, Lancaster, Pa. Photograph Justin Graybill, Lancaster Newspapers / AP

Lancaster, PA: Police are looking for the thief who dug up Paula Ream’s remains and coffin and disappeared into the night.

Police said someone went into the Riverview Memorial Cemetery along the 1200 block of South Duke Street in Lancaster late Thursday night or early Friday morning and dug up Paula Ream’s grave.

Paula was only nine years old when she died in August 1962. She was buried in the “Babyland” section of the Riverview Cemetery. Her plot was in the back of the cemetery and was not visible from the road. Paula’s mother and father were later buried next to her. Their graves were left undisturbed.

The caretaker of the cemetery discovered the theft last Friday. Ream’s remains and small coffin were gone. Ream’s grave marker was left on top of the graves of her parents, who were buried next to her.

“There is a lot of different speculation as to why someone would do this, but it’s disturbing is all I can say,” Lancaster Police Department Lt. James Smith said last Saturday. Police said that they have combed the cemetery grounds for evidence and that they have received many tips since their investigation started.

A security guard walks by Paula's grave, August 14, 2010. Photograpg Justin Graybill/Lancaster Newspapers/AP

Lancaster County Crimestoppers is offering a reward up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of the person(s) responsible for the grave robbery.

If you have any information that could help investigators, you can contact:

 the Lancaster City Bureau of Police at 717-735-3300

Detective Sgt. Gary Mackley at (717) 735-3347, or

the Lancaster City/Lancaster County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-322-1913

Callers can remain anonymous and do not have to give their names. 

Read more here.


  1. How was her coffin removed do they know, by shovels or a digger? If the coffin had been there since 1962 wouldnt it have been at least starting to fall apart? Was there any evidence of a car or truck on the grass ( Tire Tracks) or any shoe or boot prints in the dirt?

    This is so odd why would anybody want to do this and as to the location of the grave site being in the back of the cemetary I think it was somebody who is familiar with the place maybe they have family buried there themselves did LE ask the grave yard owners if they recieved any calls in the weeks or months before this happened concerning inquireies about the childrens section of the grave yard or any calls that were odd or seemed out of place?

  2. Hi Melanie,

    Thank you for reading DCC and for taking the time to comment.

    As to your questions, I am sure you will understand that police will not give away what they have found just like that. I quote: “Sgt. Kevin Fry of the Lancaster Bureau of Police said investigators aren’t ready to comment on any details of the theft. “I don’t want to release that [information] because the person who did it would know those details,”he said.”

    Police routinely get calls with tips and they need facts to check these tips. That is why they do not release all details right away. As soon as more can be safely released, I will post that here on DCC. So…stay tuned for more!

    Thanks again, V

  3. @ Vidocq:

    I completely understand and thank you for your reply.

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