150 tombstones toppled in NJ cemetery
FLEMINGTON, N.J. - December 9, 2011 (WPVI) -- Disrespectful. Disgusting. That's how locals are describing the destruction going on at the Flemington Presbyterian Church Cemetery on Main Street.
The vandals have struck repeatedly during the last 3 weeks.
"Think about how it would be if somebody you loved was in that cemetery. It's a personal affront. It's ungodly," said Carolee Zack of Raritan Township.
Just about everywhere you look in the cemetery, there are toppled tombstones on the ground - more than 150 in all, about half of the graves here, some of which date back to the late 1700s.
"When people die they should be left alone, rest in peace. For somebody to even have the gall to come up here and try to vandalize these--or actually vandalize them it's just disgusting," said Jerry Lyczkowski, who lives next door to the cemetery.
Police estimate there's more than $30,000 worth of damage here.
While the vandalism began with knocking over tombstones, police say vandals have begun setting small fires in the grass or on top of graves. Area resident say some local kids have been seen in the cemetery.
"They seem to be kids in some kind of Pagan ritual and they just kind of lay on the ground. We don't think think they'd be the ones doing it, but it's just kind of strange," said Capt. Frank Nataluk of the Salvation Army in Flemington.
The Hunterdon Co. Prosecutor, Anthony Kearns, says despite reports of rituals and fires, at this point he sees what's going on at the cemetery as criminal mischief and not related to the occult.
"There doesn't appear to be much more than that. We're really looking at this as vandalism right now," said Kearns.
Repairing the damage to the fragile old headstones will be difficult and costly.
"It's sacred. It's people's families, people's loved ones. I mean to do something like that? It's not funny," said Linda Dew.
The Hunterdon Co. Prosecutor's office is offering a $500 reward for the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for trashing this cemetery.
new jersey, hunterdon county, vandalism, crime
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