Bowman man arrested for allegedly digging up grave on Easter Sunday

Court documents outline an attempt to exhume human remains from Bowman Cemetery. Suspect charged with Class C felony and denied bond.

Stark County Courthouse
The Stark County District Courthouse is pictured.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

BOWMAN, ND — A man from Bowman was arrested and charged for his alleged digging up of a grave at the Bowman Cemetery. The incident was reported by the deceased individual's family on Easter Sunday.

According to the Bowman Police Department, an officer responded to a call at the Bowman Cemetery where a relative of the deceased reported that the grave site appeared to have been tampered with. Investigating the site, police found that the marked grave site showed signs of digging, with earth removed from the surface measuring 3 feet in width, 5 feet in length and just under one foot in depth. Further, hand tools including a long-handled spade shovel, a pickaxe, a four-tine pitchfork and a metal wheelbarrow, were found at the scene — along with several missing memorial objects.

After collecting evidence and interviewing family members of the deceased, a possible name of a suspect was given as Anthony Jo Partida-Breen, 38, of Bowman. A family member of Partida-Breen identified the hand tools and wheelbarrow as their own, which the accussed had been known to borrow frequently.

Breen, Anthony 001.JPG
Anthony Jo Partida-Breen, 38, of Bowman, charged with violating the protection of human burial sites, human remains and burial goods.
Photo courtesy of the Southwest Multi-County Correction Center

During questioning, Partida-Breen admitted to attempting to exhume the friend's remains and that he stopped because he came to a portion of the grave that he could not dig through due to it being frozen.

Partida-Breen was subsequently charged with a Class C Felony under North Dakota Century Code for violating the protection of human burial sites, human remains and burial goods. According to court records this latest incident joins a long series of arrests for Partida-Breen dating back to 2002. The lengthy criminal history contains numerous misdemeanor charges across multiple North Dakota counties, and are mostly related to drugs and alcohol.


According to individuals familiar with Partida-Breen, he has a long history of mental health issues.

As the Regional Director at Badlands Human Service Center in Dickinson, Jessica Odermann is a leader in the ongoing struggles to address mental health issues in southwest North Dakota. During a panel discussion on issues facing the western portions of the state last year, Odermann said the lack of hospital beds for in-patient psychiatric care has gone from concerning to outright problematic.

Police transported Partida-Breen to the Southwest Multi-County Correction Center in Dickinson, where he is being held without bond. In a public statement, Bowman Police Chief Charles R. Headley said his concerns were on the privacy of the family of the deceased.

"The deceased names will not be released by our agency, out of respect to the families privacy over this shocking event," he said.

If convicted of the Class C Felony, Partida-Breen could face up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

The Bowman Police Department took the decision to disable the comments section on their social media post about the incident to prevent “cruel and demeaning comments” towards both the family and the suspect. The department has requested the community's cooperation in respecting the privacy of everyone involved in this incident.

James B. Miller, Jr. is the Editor of The Dickinson Press in Dickinson, North Dakota. He strives to bring community-driven, professional and hyper-local focused news coverage of southwest North Dakota.
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