Friday, June 11, 1999
35 headstones vandalized in Green Cemetery
Police in three towns are looking for the individuals responsible for overturning a total of 83 headstones during the weekend of June 5 and 6. Thirty-five headstones were in Carlisle's Green Cemetery, 33 in Bedford's Shawsheen Cemetery, and 15 stones in Saint Bernard's Cemetery in Concord.
A visitor to a grave in Green Cemetery reported the vandalism to Carlisle police at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 6. Concord found one stone overturned on that day, but when the landscape crew and groundsmen arrived at the cemetery the next day to repair the damage, they discovered a total of 15 stones overturned. The Bedford vandalism occurred the same night as the vandalism in Green Cemetery.
Police departments in the three towns are treating the events as related crimes and are conducting a joint investigation. Extra police patrols have been posted in the three towns. The damage in each town appears to have been limited to one section of the burial ground, and much of the damage was done to stones dating from the 1920s to 40s. Police Chief David Galvin said that they attempted to notify as many family members as possible.
Partial and latent fingerprints were lifted from some of the disturbed stones. These were sent to the state crime lab for identification and may be a vital source of information for the investigation team. Police are also hopeful that someone who was passing one of the cemeteries on Saturday night and saw some activity will come forward with additional information.
Galvin said that the person or persons responsible will be charged with malicious destruction of property and the penalty will hinge on whether the matter goes through the juvenile or adult court system. Since some of the stones weigh several hundred pounds, it is assumed that several persons were involved.
Carlisle Department of Public Works Superintendent Gary Davis said, "We can't assess the total damage until we get them all back up again." However, replacing the stones presents a problem. Davis said some of the stones are so heavy that a crane will be necessary. "In the older section, where graves are closer together, we can't get a crane in." The monument company representative has helped put a few of them up, but with 83 down in three communities, he hasn't been able to respond as quickly as most people would like. One Bedford policeman, a veteran of 28 years experience, said that over the years there has been occasional vandalism in cemeteries, "but this is the worst I've ever seen."
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito