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Tombstones allegedly vandalized

By: Ora Nelson

Vandalisms of tombstones in Pilgrims Rest Cemetery began in late May and have carried on to today.

“We don’t know exactly what day it happened,” said Kelly Carter, member of Macedonia Baptist Church (located less than a mile from Pilgrims Rest). “I took pictures on May 25 and took probably 45 minutes of video. On May 28, we went back [to Pilgrim Rest], and between when we left on May 25 and then, somebody had come in there and done that.”

“About five were taken out [of the ground] and there were a couple more that were freshly uprooted,” said Carter. “Those were never found. I don’t know if they [the vandals] hauled them off or what.”

Carter was in Pilgrims Rest working together with his cousin Carolyn Davis, a member of Pilgrims Rest’s cemetery committee, to document and organize the legible gravemarkers for easy access to visitors.

“Right now, there’s just bare spots on the ground that you don’t have any idea about who it belongs to or who was there before they [the vandals] took it [the headstones],” said Carter.

“That’s a shame people will go and mess around with other’s final place of rest,” said Blake Turman, Covington County sheriff. “You know, we have to find out who did it and if we have the information and evidence, we’ll go out and make the arrest. That’s never been a problem. It’s finding out those who are doing it.”

“You’ve got people knocking down stuff like that because they don’t see any type of surveillance around,” said Carter. “We’ve had the sheriff up here talking about how important it is to keep something out there.”

“If you notice something, notify us [the police] as soon as you can,” said Turman. “Time is really of the essence. Maybe we can put some things together and catch who’s doing these things.”

“The deputies ride by but they don’t know if it [tomestones] were knocked down recently or decades ago,” said Turman. “That’s where we count on the public to let us know when these things happen.”

“It’s important to have some type of sanctuary or visible presence as security around the cemetery to keep people from doing stuff like that,” said Carter.

Turman encourages people to report cases of vandalism even if it is already taken to the cemetery committees where the vandalism happened.

“It’s against the law to be in a cemetery after dark,” said Turman. “We don’t want someone out knocking over our loved one’s monuments and unless we [the police] are alerted to it, we’re not going to know about it.”