AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) — An Alabama man was arrested and charged with criminal littering after placing flowers at his fiancee’s grave.
Winchester Hagans built a flower box covered with engagement pictures to place at his fiancee Hannah Ford’s grave at Auburn’s Memorial Park Cemetery.
Ford, 27, was killed in a three-vehicle crash the same day she picked out a venue for the couple’s wedding.
“She was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. We were so happy,” Hagans said.
The couple met in 2019 and got engaged in December the following year when Ford said yes to Hagan’s marriage proposal.
On Jan. 17, 2021, the couple visited their future wedding venue in Notasulga, Alabama. Hagans remembers Ford kissing him goodbye as she prepared to make the drive.
“The last things I heard her say were, ‘I love you, and I hate leaving you,'” said Hagans.
Hagans says the couple had a strained relationship with some members of Ford’s family, and someone kept throwing the flowers away.
Hagans kept rebuilding the box and putting the flowers back. Hagans says Ford’s family never told him directly to stay away from his fiancee’s grave and stop leaving flowers.
Last month, Hagans was on his way to preach at an east Alabama church when police pulled him over for an expired tag.
“The officer came back and said there was a warrant out for my arrest, handcuffed me on the side of the road on a Sunday morning,” said Hagans.
Hanna’s father, Hayden Ford, had signed a warrant for Hagan’s arrest for criminal littering.
The complaint, dated Jan. 4 reads: Hayden Thomas Ford is the property owner of his daughter Hannah Ford’s cemetery plot located at Memorial Park in Auburn, Alabama. Approximately 7-8 flower boxes have been placed on Hannah’s gravesite without his permission. Winston Hagans has been advised not to place unauthorized items on Hannah’s grave.
Auburn police said that in Alabama certain burial plots are owned and controlled by the family of the deceased and therefore are private property. Therefore, any citizen has a right to pursue a criminal charge upon showing sufficient probable cause exists to believe a crime has been committed.
Hagans’ attorney Jeff Tickal tells NewsNation affiliate WRBL Hagans has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
“Rick Hagans and his family are long-time friends, and I am happy to represent Winchester in this case,” Tickal said. “Winchester is a great young man, and we are looking forward to telling his side of the story and reversing this travesty brought against him.”
Hagans says he still visits his fiancee’s grave often and prays that better days are ahead for all who loved her.
“I know her spirit is in Heaven with Jesus, and we will be together in the new world, but this is where her body is,” he said. “I just grew up being taught that graves were important.”
When asked what he would say to Hannah’s father, Hagans said, “I just want to be able to put flowers on her grave.”
“She was the most beautiful, loving, sweet and amazing, full of life person I had ever met,” Hagans said.
Hagans’ trial date is set for March.