Vandals damage 45 gravestones at Little Church of St. Joseph's [PICTURES]
Someone's idea of a joke.
Late Friday night, the pastor at Historic Little Church of St. Joseph's in Plymouth thought he saw something moving in the church's darkened cemetery. The windows of his home look out on the historic graveyard and its 120 upright headstones, but in the gloom he couldn't make out what it was.
Early the next morning he walked out into the cemetery and was confronted by a scene of chaos.
The church was founded in 1857 and has dozens of headstones and markers that date back to the late 1800s. Some of the area's earliest settler farmers are buried there.
That didn't matter much to the vandals that struck sometimes between Friday evening and Saturday morning. At least 45 stones were toppled, smashed or broken, and according to church administrator John Olson, at least a third are of some historical significance.
"It's disheartening and sad to see this," he says. "I've been out there four times now and it's just sad."
Although there are few leads on the culprits, Olson says there must have been at least two. In addition to simply tipping heavy, 6-foot-high grave markers, the vandals also broke off a sizeable chunk of a while marble headstone, carried it to the front of the church, then propped a large ash urn on top of it. They also uprooted a baby's headstone and dumped it halfway down the cemetery hill, a job that would've needed at least two people.
Olson says that the tombstones are the property of the families, and that letters will be sent to as many relatives as they can track down for help with payments for the damage. But in the end, he says the church will cover the cost of any that go unclaimed and that it could cost up to $10,000.
"We have to do that. We can't leave them the way they are," he says.
Some of the damage to the older stones, however, will likely be irreparable.
Trick or treat? Trick: And a pretty nasty one at that.
Check out the damage below:
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