When Cemeteries Vandalized, Victimized Families Pay for Repairs

Published 04/29 2014 06:19AM

Updated 05/03 2014 05:17PM

UPDATE: Vermont State police have charged two juveniles with unlawful mischief in connection to the vandalism of approximately 10 gravestones at Boro Cemetery. The cemetery is the resting place of many Vermonters who served in foreign and domestic wars.

State police began investigating the vandalism May 2. One gravestone damaged was of a veteran who fought in the War of 1812. Police say the veteran's flag staff at the cemetery was broken in half with the American flag left lying on the ground.

Town officials estimate the damage to be anywhere from $700-$800. The juveniles are scheduled to appear in Addison Juvenile Court June 10.

MONKTON, Vt. - Dianne Leary needed to see for herself the three vandalized headstones at Boro Cemetery in Monkton.

The Vice President of the Vermont Old Cemetery Association routinely revitalizes rundown cemeteries.

“There's no way these headstones would have fallen over in less they were given a nudge,” Leary said.

“It's not my idea of fun. I don't know why anyone thinks its fun.”

Boro Cemetery is the resting place for Vermonters who served in the military--anywhere between the Civil War and the Vietnam War.

At the entrance, three marble headstones lie toppled over, one with a crack at the base.

“The break is pricey because that's going to take time,” Leary said.

The Vermont Old Cemetery Association (VOCA) helps keep cemeteries clean and fix them when needed, but their membership fees hardly cover the cost.

“There's not a lot of money and it's very expensive to repair,” Leary said.

The damage done at Monkton might cost $200. Leary says it usually can cost more.

On Monday, the Monkton Select Board discussed paying for the repairs, but usually that price is passed on to the family.

Leary says that’s the case in many Vermont towns.

VOCA is looking to new places for money and there's even a bill at the Vermont Statehouse that would put a small fee on all burials to repair vandalized cemeteries.

“The amount we're asking for is insignificant in the overall cost,” Leary said.

For $5 they're hoping to provide peace of mind to families

“It would be taken care of,” Leary said.

But there's no other way to put it. The bill is dead.

Leary hopes VOCA can get the bill passed next year so that when vandalism strikes families don't have to put a price on their grief.

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