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On July 4th, Brandon and Billy learned that a timber crew had been working at the Haley-McCoy grave for several days. Horrified, they raced to the site and found the ground ripped up, trees felled, and huge machinery roaring and chewing all over the mountainside. The Haley-McCoy grave was lost amidst toppled trees and fresh timber roads. Workers said the grave was okay, although property owners had not told them it was there.

When Brandon called me with this news, I told him there might be a positive outcome to the whole mess. Maybe we could now approach some people about exhuming the grave. He was all for it now.

“You know, we could try Doug Owsley at the Smithsonian,” I said. “He could tell us all kinds of things about them just by looking at their bones.”

Brandon had more of a “rescue mentality.”

“I hate to mess with their bodies,” he said. “I mean, they were real people. There’s something historical about them being there. I hate to spoil that.”

He agreed to an exhumation, though, so long as it had the support of Milt and Green’s family and so long as they would be re-buried at the site with a historical marker placed nearby to note the significance of the site and add protection from future bulldozers.

We talked more over the next few days — particularly about getting Doug Owsley, the expert forensic scientist, to conduct such a dig.

The next thing I knew, I was on the telephone with Owsley explaining my interest in Milt’s and Green’s grave. He was enthusiastic about the project but wanted more information, so Brandon gathered up some of our research and fired it off to him.