Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cemetery Crime - Columbiana County, Ohio

Vandals Target 2 Columbiana County Cemeteries

Last Update: 11/14 7:52 pm

Police in Columbiana County are looking for the public's help to find whoever vandalized a pair of cemeteries late last week.

The vandalism occurred on Friday, which was Veterans Day. Neighbors and police believe the incidents started sometime after 9 p.m., where someone damaged the two graveyards located just a mile or so from each other.

Neighbors said they called police after hearing noises at Oakdale Cemetery sometime after 9 p.m. Friday.

"It sounded like gunshots because it was repeated a couple times and then it stopped. A brief minute passed. I stood and listened and then it started up again," Bud Turner said.

Police were back at the Oakdale and Mount Calvary cemeteries Monday afternoon, looking over multiple sets of tire tracks and other damage. Although both are actually in Salem Township, Oakdale is owned and maintained by the village of Leetonia.

Although police did respond that night, the damage at Oakdale wasn't discovered until Saturday morning: Numerous tire tracks and some posts knocked over.

Authorities discovered much of the damage over the weekend and are wondering why someone would ever think to do something like this.

"I mean, it's just not right, especially on Veterans Day. My husband's a veteran, my son's still in the Army. You just don't do that. You don't do it to veterans and you don't do it in a cemetery," said Sue Simpson, Oakdale Cemetery clerk.

Although no headstones were knocked over at either location, tire tracks can be clearly seen rolling right over a pair of grave markers at Mount Calvary, as well as other damage. And workers said vandals, possibly the same ones, drove through the grounds a week earlier causing damage then as well.

"It's very difficult, especially when your victim can't speak out for themselves and defend themselves. And then again, the families that are having a difficult time grieving themselves now have to cope wth this matter. It's just not fair to the families," said Dan Valentine, Salem Township Police constable.

At this point, police are looking for information from the public to catch whoever is responsible and said they've even reached out to the Greater Youngstown Crime Stoppers organization to see if a reward can be offered.

In the meantime, anyone with information is asked to contact either the Salem Township Police at (330) 427-0808, or Leetonia Police at (330) 427-6731.

"If it's kids involved in this, they'll talk about it. There's some bragging rights involved with this and I'm hoping that somebody will be able to realize that this was unnecessary and report that," Valentine said.

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