On January 25, 2021, Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested 45-year-old Kevin John Wheeler of Fort Meade for removing a monument (F3) and petit theft (M2).
On January 13, 2021, Roy and Elizabeth Tillman reported a theft of solar lights at their son, Damion’s gravesite at the Evergreen Cemetery in Fort Meade. Damion Tillman and two others were murdered last July in Frostproof while on a fishing trip. Click here for the news release of that homicide.
Following the initial theft, the Tillmans placed a surveillance camera at the site.
Then on January 25th, around 11:15 p.m., the Tillmans observed someone, via the camera at their son’s gravesite, removing the lights. They called the PCSO Emergency Communications Center and gave a detailed description of the suspect and his red pick-up truck.
While responding to the cemetery, deputies located the suspect and conducted a traffic stop. According to the affidavit, Wheeler “spontaneously stated he was getting lights” and that “he had an interest with gravesite lights and was removing them because he thought they were pretty.”
The stolen lights from Damion’s gravesite, along with 5 additional solar lights, were found in the bed of Wheeler’s pick-up truck.
“Few of us know the agony of burying a child, and even fewer if that child is murdered. It is abhorrent that this criminal made the Tillman family a victim yet again.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff
Wheeler was arrested and transported to the Polk County Jail. He has since been released on a $1,250.00 bond. Wheeler’s criminal history includes 2 felonies: grand theft and vehicle theft, as well as receiving a Special Court Martial by the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service for making a bomb threat.