Elderly Man Arrested After Being Caught Disguised in Wig, Leaving Dead Animals on Neighbor's Tombstone: Cops

Joseph Stroud, 79, was caught wearing a wig, leaving dead animals on his neighbors gravestones.
Bentonville Police Department

Joseph Stroud, 79, was caught wearing a wig, leaving dead animals on his neighbors gravestones

A 79-year-old Arkansas man was arrested after he was caught on video allegedly disguised in a wig, leaving animal carcasses on his neighbors' gravesite, according to reports. Joseph Stroud pleaded guilty on Monday to a misdemeanor charge of defacing objects of public respect under a plea deal, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Stroud reportedly dropped off the animal carcasses for two months between May 31 and July 31 next to and on top of his former neighbor Fred Allen McKinney's tombstone at the Pea Ridge Cemetery in Bentonville. McKinner died at 94 in August 2015, according to his obituary.

After noticing the bloody stained tombstone, McKinney's family placed a hidden video camera facing their grandfather's gravestone to catch the suspect in the act. They saw a person in a women's wig, a teal and white women's jacket and sunglasses, later identified as Stroud, according to the probable cause affidavit. McKinney and Stroud allegedly had "many" problems as neighboring farmers, the affidavit read. 

McKinney's granddaughter caught Stroud driving away from the cemetery, and decided to go to her grandfather's gravesite, where she found a dead possum and eight live baby possums inside of a flower vase, the affidavit reads.

Stroud was arrested on Aug. 10 and said during the hearing this week that he was giving them to "honor" his dead neighbor, who he said loved animals, the outlet reported.

"I done it for his behalf to show him the animals were still here and everything like that," he said, according to the outlet. "He just enjoyed animals and that there was more of a ... a beauty than flowers and stuff."

Asked by the judge why he wore a wig during his visits, Stroud said that it was "to agitate the people looking at me and following me around."

"I done it to upset them because my car was there and my license tag was there, and they knew it was me," he said. "I done it just to agitate them because I knew they were checking on me and stuff."

Alison Lee, his attorney, said her client was examined by a neurologist, who diagnosed him with vascular dementia. The plea agreement was offered by prosecutors on the basis of a mental evaluation because it's possible Stroud's impulses were affected by his diagnosis.

"He understands it was wrong," Lee said on behalf of Stroud, the outlet reported. "He's here admitting that, and he wants to get that money to the family so they can get this headstone replaced."

As part of the agreement, Stroud was also stripped of his driver's license for a year.

The judge allowed Stroud to continue to visit the cemetery, where his wife is also buried, as long as he is accompanied by a family member.

Stroud will pay more than $2,500 in damages for the family to replace McKinney's gravestone.