APD nabs juvenile cemetery vandal

Published 8:31 pm Thursday, February 26, 2009

On Thursday, police arrested the person responsible for vandalizing nearly half a dozen tombstones in Andalusia’s Magnolia Cemetery.

Lt. Mike Bowlan of the Andalusia Police Department said the “mischief” was reported Saturday that at least six headstones — most of which were originally place in the mid to late 1800s — had been knocked off their pedestals.

“Dwight Mikel of the city’s department of leisure services had gotten complaints lodged from several citizens about mischief at the Magnolia Cemetery,” he said. “What we found were several knocked-over headstones. It appeared to be about six, but we didn’t walk the whole cemetery.”

By Thursday, one juvenile — whose age and identity were not released — was arrested and charged with criminal mischief and desecration of burial grounds, Bowlan said.

“I can’t believe anyone would go and desecrate a sacred place,” he said. “This is a loved one’s final resting place and families should not be tormented by people without morals. I would have liked to think that a cemetery was the one place that didn’t need protection by law enforcement.

“This type of behavior is shocking to everyone in our community and we want the families who have loved ones buried in this cemetery to know the matter is resolved,” he said.

The unidentified juvenile was scheduled to appear before Circuit Judge Frank “Trippy” McGuire Thursday afternoon.

“Let’s just hope the judge gives this juvenile something more constructive to do with his time — like fixing the damage done at the cemetery,” Bowlan said.

It appears most of the headstones can be righted by simply repositioning the tops of the markers on their bases. However, there are a few that sustained significant damage, he said.

“These things are so old, they don’t even make them anymore,” he said. “I wouldn’t even begin to speculate on how much it would cost to fix or replace them.”