Sunday, June 17, 2012
Hutchinson police are still trying to catch vandals responsible for damaging more than 60 headstones in Hutchinson's Eastside cemetery.
Police believe the damage may be three times worse than they originally thought. The cemetery’s manager tells us many of the destroyed headstones are beyond repair. He is now focusing on getting those markers replaced.
Some of the names are barely visible, but the dates reveal some of the broken headstones in Eastside Cemetery mark the final resting places of people buried more than a century ago.
"Most of them are Civil War, Mexican-American War veteran markers that are well over 100 years old... very soft material,” Eastside Cemetary Manager Zach Phillips said.
Those grave markers are just a few of more than 60 headstones that were damaged or destroyed by vandals.
The cemetery manager tells us that about 40 large granite gravestones that were knocked down simply had to be set upright again. The white marble markers at the veterans' graves are a different story.
"The majority of the markers are truly unfixable. The glue is actually harder than the material you're working on so it will eventually wear down around that epoxy and the marker will fall over and break again,” Phillips said.
There is a chance those headstones could be replaced through the Veteran's Administration. Phillips says he'll have to provide detailed information on every veteran buried underneath the damaged stones, which will take a lot of time and research.
“I know the markers are not our responsibility to do anything with, it's their the family's responsibility, but in most cases there aren't even any relatives around after 100 years,” Phillips said.
Hutchinson Police would like anyone with any information on the vandals responsible for damaging the Eastside cemetery to call the police department or Reno County Crimestoppers 1-800-222-TIPS.