GREENSBURG — An unknown number of vandals struck South Park Cemetery in Greensburg Monday night, causing extensive damage to some 18 headstones.
South Park Office Manager Joyce Sebastian, Board Chairman David Miers and Superintendent Gary McCreary allowed the Daily News to view the damage late Tuesday afternoon.
The vandalism occurred in the cemetery’s oldest section, Miers said, where headstones tend to be taller and more vulnerable due to age. Some of the stones, in fact, show signs of previous repair.
Although confined to the oldest section, the damage was spread across a fairly wide swath of the grounds, with the oldest of the damaged stones dating to 1836.
Miers said he simply can’t understand how someone could derive “enjoyment” from desecrating the final resting place of the dead.
McCreary expressed near certainty that a group of at least three or four perpetuated the crime, explaining that the stones are too heavy for one person to topple.
Sebastian added that all the damaged stones are maintained exclusively by the cemetery.
“These stones are so old, have been here so long,” she said, “that there’s no one left to care for them — everyone’s either passed or moved away.”
Among the damaged markers is the one for Col. J.S. Scobey, a Greensburg Civil War Veteran who died in 1900.
According to Sebastian, repairing the damage will easily cost between $5,000 and $10,000. Some of the markers, she said, might not be repairable. In those cases, the damaged stones will be salvaged as well as possible and arranged next to the foundations so as to be readable.
“We haven’t had a problem with this kind of thing since 2003,” Miers said.
That year, vandals struck the same section of the cemetery. According to Miers, the cemetery installed lighting to the vandalized section, alleviating the problem until Monday night.
The cemetery filed a report with the Greensburg Police Department on Tuesday regarding the crime. Captain Fred Huser is investigating.
Anyone with information regarding this or any GPD case, can call the GPD’s anonymous tip line at: 812-66-CRIME (662-7463) or 663-3131.
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011