Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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July 8, 2009

Vandals wreck Amo cemetery

AMO — It wasn’t what they thought they’d see when Thomas and Jonathan Meredith brought their 4-H calves down to the pasture.

Usually, the Spring Town Cemetery just off their property is peaceful and serene. But they were surprised when they found most of the headstones — some dating back to 1841 — uprooted or broken in half.

“We thought the dogs had been digging at first,” Thomas said.

Their mother, Nancy, said she just couldn’t understand why someone would want to knock over and destroy the headstones.

“It’s so heartbreaking to see this,” she said. “My heart just sank. Who in their right mind would do something like this?”

The Meredith family has acted as caretakers of the cemetery, which is just adjacent to their family farm. Thomas and Jonathan mow the grass and their father, Gary, helps them with general upkeep.

“I think it’s an honor to take care of this (cemetery),” Nancy said. “If it weren’t for these folks, this area wouldn’t be what it is today.”

The boys said they mowed the grass Friday afternoon and discovered the cemetery in its current condition on Monday evening.

“It’d have to be somebody pretty strong,” Jonathan said. “(The headstones) go down about three feet.”

Thomas added, “The good thing is they left (the headstones). They didn’t take them.”

The Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene Monday evening.

Lt. Jim Yetter, public information officer for the sheriff’s department, said there isn’t usually much cemetery damage or vandalism in the county.

“Criminal mischief on a whole goes up during the summer, but as far as the cemetery mischief, it’s not a big problem year round,” Yetter said. “It’s so unfortunate, because most of these families may not even still have family in the area. It’s very sad that they would choose to deface something like this.”

Yetter said the state legislature passed a statute that makes the penalties for recklessly damaging a cemetery, headstones, or the grounds a class A misdemeanor. He said if the monetary damage is more than $2,000 to $5,000, the misdemeanor could be considered a felony.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department Investigations Department at 745-9354.

charlee.beasor@flyergroup.com

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