SEDALIA, Mo. — A Kansas resident formerly of Sedalia confessed to stealing several thousands of dollars worth of Civil War artifacts from the Pettis County Museum sometime in 2017.
On March 24, Charles Wise, with the museum, reported several civil war artifacts had been stolen from the Sedalia museum. After an initial investigation, officials with the Sedalia Police Department issued a state charge of stealing to a former museum volunteer, 38-year-old Terry Cockrell, of Coffeyville, Kansas, after he allegedly admitted to stealing the items – including a Civil War sword and a brass barrel Blunderbuss, among other items – and selling them to a Civil War collector.
An independent investigation by KMZU revealed that the collector who unknowingly purchased the stolen items was Mr. Rafael Eledge, who owns Shiloh Civil War Relics, based out of Savannah, Tennessee.
Eledge – known for his role in the PBS television show “Antique Roadshow”, is, according to the page dedicated to him on the PBS website for the popular memorabilia-collecting program, “one of the country’s most active and knowledgeable experts of Civil War and 19th-century militaria.”
According to a news release from the desk of SPD Detective Jill Green, “Mr. Eledge is working with police to get the stolen items returned to the museum. There is nothing to indicate Mr. Eledge knew the items were stolen and he has been victimized as well.”
Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, Eledge was unable to comment on the case when contacted.
When contact was made with Cockrell, SDP reports that he confessed to stealing the items, and a state charge of stealing was submitted to the Pettis County Prosecutor’s Office for further action.
Green reports that Eledge confirmed purchasing the piece of memorabilia Wise found on his website – a cap and ball musket rifle – from Cockrell, in addition to other artifacts. The release notes that the suspect was deceitful in reporting how he obtained these items when selling them to Eledge. Doumentation for the purchases was also supplied.
After speaking to Eledge, contact with Cockrell was made. He confessed to stealing the items and selling them to the collector.
A post on the “Pettis County Historical Society & Museum” Facebook page read: “Its disheartening and disappointing when someone abuses the trust you put in them. Our organization runs entirely on volunteer help, which means you have to put trust in the people that offer to help. We trusted Mr. Cockrell for many years, which makes this betrayal a sad situation all around.”
Cockrell – a 2010 mayoral candidate and the organizer of Sedalia’s annual Fourth of July Parade – could potentially face a felony charge, given the economic value of the items that were stolen.