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Simpson County Man Sentenced for Robbing Native American Graves


A Simpson County man has been sentenced to more than a year in prison for violating a federal law that protects archaeological remains. The case stems from a three-year undercover investigation by the National Park Service.  

60-year-old Gary Womack of Woodburn entered a guilty plea in March for violating the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act.

He admitted removing artifacts from the graves of Native Americans buried in caves in south central Kentucky and from burial sites in other states.  

The investigation started after a witness reported that Womack had invited him to look at artifacts he had allegedly taken from Mammoth Cave National Park and other locations.  

During the investigation, Womack sold an undercover officer artifacts from a mound in Posey County, Indiana. Several people were prosecuted there in 1992 after digging into the mound.  

Those artifacts were supposed to have been re-buried, but prosecutors said Womack was able to purchase the artifacts as recently as 2015 in Warrick County, Indiana.

In sentencing Womack to 15 months in prison, U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers said he was disturbed that Womack had chosen to dig the graves of the ancestors of Native Americans for profit while knowing it was illegal.


Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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