Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

News

August 19, 2008

Shiloh Desecrated: DCSD seeks information on vandalism at cemetery

Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Henderson has seen a number of baffling things in his line of work, but the discovery he made Monday evening may have been one of the worst.

“I don’t understand it,” Henderson said Tuesday as he walked through the cemetery. “I don’t know what joy somebody could get out of defacing somebody’s grave.”

On Sunday, caretakers and trustees of Shiloh Cemetery discovered a violent scene of criminal mischief. About 30 to 40 gravestones at the historic Shiloh Cemetery were toppled, broken and destroyed. Henderson said, given the size of many of the broken markers, a group of people trespassed sometime in the late night either Tuesday or Wednesday and wrecked havoc on the more than 160-year-old cemetery. They targeted the largest and oldest tombstones, destroying most of the large markers, many of which had dates between 1850 and 1880. The oldest was from 1837.

Each weighed easily two tons, according to Bill Fenley, one of the cemetery trustees, and caretaker Lonnie Spillman. They said it would take at least three or four people to topple some of the largest stones. The vandalism was wide spread as well. Henderson noted they didn’t stick to the back of the cemetery where night would have hidden them from any passers-by on desolate County Road 400 North. They had the audacity, he said, to break stones under the only lamp post at the cemetery and not a row of graves was untouched. The damage to the old tombstones was hard to gauge.

“It’s hard to put a price on something sacred,” Spillman said.

The men estimated the damage at between $30,000 and $40,000, which makes the crime a Class D Felony, cemetery mischief.

The stones, Fenley said, could mostly be fixed, but it would be hard to place them back the way they were. Given the cemetery’s age and history, finding the proper location for each broken shard and toppled headstone would not be an easy task.

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