Vandals topple 20 tombstones in Gratz

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By John Whitlock

Police are investigating the Thanksgiving Day vandalism of a graveyard in Gratz.
According to Owen County Sheriff Zemer Hammond, about 20 stones were overturned or damaged in the Mount Minish Cemetery sometime between Wednesday and Friday morning last week.
“Somebody went in there and either turned them over or pushed them off their bases,” Hammond said. “It was discovered when people went in there Friday morning to decorate their family gravestones for Christmas.”
Some of the stones were decades old, Hammond said.
Owen County Deputy Sheriff Marvin Goodrich found evidence of a bon fire near the cemetery.
“It appears they were camped out overnight and built a fire,” Hammond said.
Although leads in the case are difficult, Hammond said the department has collected some evidence.
“We found some evidence by the bon fire,” Hammond said. “(The evidence) will go to the lab for inspection.”
The sheriff declined to comment on what the evidence might be or what he hopes to learn.
“We have a couple of suspects in mind,” Hammond said. “We will know more when we get the results from the lab.”
Hammond said it would probably have taken at least two people to push over some of the heavy tombstones.
“There were at least two, maybe more,” Hammond said.
Area resident Stella Goodrich, who has several family members including her father buried in the cemetery, said her sister-in-law Kim Smith discovered the vandalism.
Stella Goodrich said this is the third instance of vandalism in the cemetery in recent years.
“You find beer cans up there all the time but this was too much,” Stella Goodrich said. “We didn’t know what else to do.”
Stella Goodrich said action should be taken.
“These things cost four or five thousand dollars each and somebody comes around and knocks it down. It’s just awful,” Stella Goodrich said.