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October 15, 2013

Vandals strike New Albany cemetery

More than 20 monuments disturbed

NEW ALBANY — Kristen Hendrix didn’t expect to see her father’s tombstone knocked over when she turned on her television Monday morning, but that was the first image she noticed on the news.

This weekend, 22 headstones and four memorial benches were pushed over at the Kraft-Graceland Memorial Park off of Charlestown Road. Police said they believe the vandalism was carried out by juveniles, but Hendrix, 31, New Albany, said it bothers her that anyone would do such a thing.

“It’s just crazy that they don’t have some kind of security patrolling or anything,” Hendrix said. “The thought that anyone would get some kind of enjoyment out of something so cruel sickens me.”

Among the knocked over graves, a memorial bench for Kim, Brad and Jill Camm was pushed down.

Maj. Keith Whitlow with the New Albany Police, said the vandals were most likely juveniles, but they’re still trying to get information on suspects.

“In my experience, it’s been juvenile delinquents with vandalism like this, although we’ve had cases where that wasn’t what happened,” Whitlow said. “About 20 years ago, we had an instance of grave robbing in Fairview [Cemetery] involving adults, but I think it’s highly likely that this was a group of juvenile offenders.”

Chad Kraft, general manager of the cemetery, said though several stones were knocked over, none of them had any serious damage done to them. He said the majority of the vandalized monuments had been set back up.

He said he thinks the vandals came late Saturday night, maybe between 10 p.m. and midnight. He said the cemetery may start locking its gates at night, but police also plan to lend a hand by patrolling at night.

“We’re going to have to look at it,” Kraft said. “We have been leaving it open, it’s almost like a park. People park their cars and walk, a lot of them every day. We’ll probably have to address that.”

Della Clary, 39, New Albany, checked the stones of her nephews and niece. She lives in a neighborhood across from the cemetery. She said she was lucky — none of her family’s graves were bothered, but she felt for others who had to see the damage.

“It makes you feel awful,” Clary said. “Why would someone do that? How would they feel if someone did that to the grave of their loved ones? These are people’s families and you think they’d be protected in a cemetery. People come here to rest.”

Whitlow said police are still trying to find details on suspects, but citizens can leave anonymous tips by calling 812-948-5300.

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Barbara Brewster has been the organ player at Faith Lutheran Church in Jeffersonville for the past 50 years. Brewster began playing organ with the church in August of 1964 at the age of 17.

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