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Grave Robbery Tied to Dungeons and Dragons Game

June 20, 1990

LAKE CITY, Fla. (AP) _ Five men have been charged with robbing a grave and using the body of a suicide victim as the centerpiece for a black-robed ceremony in a fantasy game of Dungeon and Dragons.

The men were arrested Monday and Tuesday, and charged with stealing the body of 20-year-old Steven Glen Morgan, Columbia County Sheriff Tom Tramel said. Morgan’s body, missing one leg, was found last month in a wooded area in adjacent Union County.

Morgan’s mother later found the leg, propped against a tree in the same woods, authorities said.

Tramel said investigators do not think the leg was intentionally separated from the body.

Tramel said the five gathered frequently to play Dungeons and Dragons, a fantasy game in which players pretend to be characters with great strength or magical powers as they participate in a quest of their own devising.

″We believe that the motive was due to their involvement with Dungeons and Dragons, which they have been involved in for quite some time and that became very serious,″ Tramel said.

Dungeons and Dragons game was developed as a board game in 1973 and became popular in the early 1980s. Detractors say the way the game is sometimes played is dangerous because it can blur distinctions between fantasy and reality.

Morgan’s mother, Dorothy Morgan, said Tuesday that one of those arrested had called her to say her son’s body had been taken to a house near Lake City where about 30 to 40 people dressed in black robes held a ceremony. She did not identify the caller.

″At one point, he called me and told me to keep my mouth shut because Glen belonged to them now,″ she said.

″God will see that they will pay,″ she said.

Arrested were Leon Jody Thompson, 21; Charles Vincent Womack Jr., 23; Thomas Christian Cox, 21; Joseph R. Pottgen, 21, and Frederick Day, 19. All live in the Lake City area, about 60 miles west of Jacksonville in north Florida.

They were charged with disturbing the contents of a grave - a felony that carries a five-year maximum sentence - and were being held Wednesday in the county detention center pending court appearances.

The turning point in the case was when a person who witnessed the grave robbery talked to officials, said investigator Russ Williams. His name is being withheld, Tramel said, because he fears for his life.

Investigators are trying to determine whether there is a link between the Morgan grave robbery and another grave robbery in the area last October. That body was found in a field by a farmer before anyone knew the grave had been disturbed.

Authorities are not sure what the suspects did with the body or how it got to Union County. They also do not think the five knew Morgan before he died in December from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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