ELIZABETHTOWN, Kentucky (WAVE) -- On March 21, a woman's home in Sonora was broken into while she attended her husband's funeral. Several firearms and up to 40 gold pocket watches were stolen.
"It was a violation of the safety of our home. Taking things that not only belonged to my deceased husband and deceased mother," said Normalee Skees after her home was burglarized. "After the robbery, I was very frightened."
Police immediately began investigating. On June 20, the Higdon family, of Grayson County, was saying goodbye to their son Christian, who died after a man hit him in the head with a hatchet. The Higdon home was ransacked and valuable items were stolen.
"Down and out already. It's like we were kicked when we were down," said Dennis Higdon, Christian's father.
Michael S. Acord, 40, of Magnolia, Timothy Terry, 40, of Vine Grove and James Parrett, 42, of Magnolia were arrested.
"It's pathetic that people have to stoop to that level. Especially when a family is in a time of mourning. Taking them and basically kicking someone while they're down. I think in both of these cases, that's exactly what they did," said Norman Chaffins, Kentucky State Police.
"We would assume that most likely the publicity of obituaries being online or in the paper. News coverage of incidents like the homicide that week. All that publicity is probably what sparked the interest in this type of crime," said Kentucky State Police Detective Ryan Johnson
Authorities said Acord pawned an item involved in the Higdon burglary that got them on his trail. Tyler Wright, an employee at Dixie Jewelry and Loan pawn shop said Acord tried to pawn an item on June 25. It had a serial number on it which was put into an internal database then into a national database. Wright said police called not long after.
"It makes us feel great knowing we're able to help catch the bad apples," Wright said.
Detective Johnson said, "We try to put forth as much effort as we can into every case. Regardless of the circumstances. But, in this case, we had worked the homicide, we were familiar with the family. This is something that happened in our county once before. We put forth even more effort into this case because we didn't want it to happen a third time."
The Higdons got all of their items back, minus 1 laptop.
"We've already recovered a huge portion of our stolen property," Higdon said.
The Skees identified some of their stolen items. Detective Johnson was able to call the families and tell them the news of the arrests.
"It felt good," Johnson said. "It was very rewarding. It felt like the light as the end of the tunnel as far as this. It's been a lot of long nights and a lot of investigation to lead to that point."
Both families said they are very relieved these men were arrested.
"It's an awesome sense of relief knowing these guys are arrested," Higdon said." Not only for ourselves, but for other who have been in the same situation."
Skees said "I am very relieved that they were caught."