Indian Grifter: Illinois Man Accused of Looting Native American Refuge, Selling Artifacts


Good news: That arrowhead you bought on eBay may actually be a legitimate Native American artifact.

Bad news: It could be stolen.

Fifty-year-old Leslie Jones of Creal Springs, Illinois, was sentenced this week to 30 days in prison and ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution for stealing up to 13,000 artifacts from a Native American site.

Investigators with U.S. Fish and Wildlife spied Jones digging up arrowheads, ax heads and human bones from the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge in southern Illinois. They later found thousands of freshly unearthed items in his home.

As Geoff Donaldson of the Fish and Wildlife Service told KSDK (Channel 5) this week:
"Mr. Jones was using the artifacts he would collect to supplement his income. This is how he made a living. You cannot put a dollar amount on what was removed from the Cypress Creek Wildlife Refuge, you can't do that. It's a piece that can't be restored."

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.