Man in cemetery IDed

Published 3:23 am Sunday, December 12, 2010

The man photographed naked in a local cemetery says he didn’t mean anything crazy by it, he was trying to capture pictures of spirits, or do orb photography.

The man, 47 year-old Robert T. Hurst, of 208 Mitchell St., said he was in the cemetery conducting his year-long hobby, orb photography, which is capturing circles of light at night, some of which appear to be faces. As for why he was naked the night he was caught by a game camera set up by cemetery staff, he said skin can be the best canvas for such photography.

Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Shane Tucker said the department received a great deal of community response to its request for aid in identifying a man who was photographed  naked and setting up his own camera on a tripod by a game camera in the cemetery. The community information provided Investigators Christa Groom and Shane Edgar with several leads, but none of those tips led to the man for whom they were looking.

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Instead, it was information from a Picayune Police officer that put the investigators at the suspect’s front door, Tucker said. The officer told the investigators that he remembered pulling a man over on a routine traffic stop recently that resembled the man in the picture. Using that information, the investigators identified Hurst and made several attempts to contact him, but the efforts to make contact were unsuccessful, Tucker said.

“It was obvious he was avoiding us.” Tucker said.

On Friday, Capt. Kelvin Stanford finally made contact with Hurst who turned himself in and was booked for indecent exposure, Tucker said.

The investigation started late in October when cemetery staff members reported incidents of vandalism at some of the grave sites to the Sheriff’s Department. The vandalism caused cemetery staff to set up the game camera in an attempt to capture a photo of the vandals. Instead, they got a picture of Hurst in the cemetery, without his clothes, according to the initial story.

“This is one of the craziest things that I’ve ever seen,” Stanford said, who has 15 years of law enforcement experience.

Tucker said investigation into Hurst’s presence at the cemetery shows he was not responsible for the vandalism.

On Friday, after Hurst was taken into custody, he sat down with a reporter to share his side of the story. He said for the past year he’s been taking photographs of orbs, which is done at night. Orb photography can capture images of circles of light, that at times look like faces, especially on the skin, Hurst said.

“I’ve got some great pictures, it’s really fascinating,” Hurst said.

Initially he intended to only take off his shirt, but then took off the rest of his clothes, which he said was stupid.

“I didn’t mean to expose myself to  anybody and it was stupid,” Hurst said.

“You never know who’s watching,” Stanford said.

Hurst said he had no idea the cemetery had been the victim of vandalism, and he said he has had enough of orb pictures, and cemeteries, to put his hobby to rest.

“No I don’t think I’ll be going into a cemetery, even clothed,” Hurst said.

Tucker said Hurst’s bond will be $500.