Californian indicted for theft from USS Cairo

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 10, 2000

A California man was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Jackson and will stand trial for attempting to take a piece of the USS Cairo in the Vicksburg National Military Park.

Charles W. Morfin, 26, of Los Angeles, was arrested July 25 by park rangers after officials say he broke off an 8-inch by 3-inch piece of the Civil War ironclad. Morfin, who was released on a $2,000 bond, is now facing up to two years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

According to park officials, Morfin went over the railings that surround the Cairo and broke off the piece as a souvenir. After Morfin and two friends returned to the boat and were questioned by park rangers, Morfin admitted taking the chunk of wood, but said he had fallen and accidentally knocked off the piece.

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

Morfin was indicted by the grand jury for damaging, altering or defacing an archaeological resource located on public lands with a cost of $500 or more to restore or repair.

He is represented by Vicksburg Attorney Richard Smith Jr. Morfin waived his right to enter a plea and no date has been set for his initial appearance.

The Cairo sank in the Yazoo River about seven miles north of Vicksburg after a blast from a Confederate underwater mine on Dec. 12, 1862. The boat rested on the muddy bottom of the river for 102 years before it was discovered and raised.

It was moved to Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula in 1965 for restoration and placed on display in the park near to the Vicksburg National Cemetery in 1977.