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July 1998: James Dean's Tombstone is Stolen but is Found Again

Our local newspaper had a paragraph on page 16 from the Associated Press which says:
Fairmount, Indiana: (AP) The tombstone marking the grave of Hollywood legend James Dean has been stolen from the actor's hometown cemetery where he was buried 43 years ago.

Police Chief Jim Grindle said the theft was discovered Tuesday night by youths from a church camp who slipped into the ungated cemetery looking for the gravesite.

The rose-colored stone, about 3 feet long and 2 1/2 feet tall and weighing several hundred pounds, was mounted on a base and secured by metal bars and glue, he said.

"They really worked at it," said Grindle who assumed more than one person was involved in the theft at Park Cemetery. "You can see the pry marks."

The original tombstone was stolen in April 1983, recovered the next month, then stolen again that August. The present stone replaced the original.

And now for the better news:

Mark Kinnaman just wrote to say that Aaron Gilman, a deputy sheriff driving on State Road 28 near Fairmount, hit an obstacle in the dark, tore out his transmission and found he'd hit the stolen tombstone. Marcus Winslow drove over to retrieve it.

Someone could have been killed hitting that stone on the highway in the dark. It was totally irresponsible to dump it there. This is certainly outrageous.

One interesting fact concerns the interest in this event. Reporters were thick in Fairmount, according to Mark. He was interviewed twice by TV stations. If anyone has the footage about this, they should save it. David Loehr was interviewed by People magazine, reports Magdalin Leonardo. (Stephen Payne told her.) Mark's interview was picked up by NBC and seen all over the country.

Remember, people could have been killed hitting that stone on the highway. Watch out when you are driving. You never know what might be out there, and we don't want to lose a Dean fan, ever.

The stone is back in place in Fairmount but it is the worse for wear, chipped and dinged up.

You can see this stone on the James Dean Headstone page on this site. If you have any information, please phone Chief Grindle in Fairmount.


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