Woman pleads in skull theft case

A Stagecoach-woman accused of buying a human skull stolen from the crypt of a prominent Carson City historical figure admitted guilt Tuesday in district court.

Nanette Birdsell, 36, originally claimed innocence during a November arraignment. Prosecutors recommended 15 days in Carson City jail in exchange for the plea.

Birdsell is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 22.

Sheriff's investigators believe Birdsell bought the skull from Carson City-resident David Shaughnessy and his girlfriend Janice Hershey after they allegedly stole it from the crypt on Nevada Day in 1997.

Shaughnessy, 38, pleaded guilty to grave robbery charges in October. He admitted on the witness stand to prying open the crypt of Patrick and Susan Clayton and, with Hershey as his alleged accomplice, selling one of the skulls to Birdsell for $400 and an equivalent amount of methamphetamine.

Shaughnessy was sentenced to five years probation and 100 hours community service in exchange for his plea.

If Judge Michael Griffin does not follow the recommendation of prosecutors, Birdsell could be sentenced to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine.


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