Polk County detectives search for cemetery vandals

By Holley Nees - email

POLK CO. (KTRE) – Polk County sheriff's deputies are searching for who caused thousands of dollars in damage to a Blanchard cemetery.

The vandalism happened near Livingston, off FM 3126.  Family members of those buried in the cemetery said it's tough to understand how someone could destroy such a peaceful place.

They looked on as detectives dusted their loved ones graves for fingerprints on Tuesday.

"It hurts.  It hurts real bad, very sad," said Patricia White.

Addie Mae Johnson had gone to visit her son's grave and discovered nearly every headstone in the cemetery was overturned.  "I looked over there and I said, "Oh my God, it's just everything.  Everything is just terrible."  "It makes me feel sad to know people are so evil."

Now, detectives are searching for any clues that could lead them to the culprit.  "We're collecting evidence.  Any evidence we can find, fingerprints, footprints, tire prints, DNA evidence, anything we can find, we're looking," said Detective Richard Delaney, Polk County Sheriff's Department.

White buried her sister at the cemetery only months ago. "I would ask them, "Why?"  "What reason did they have to do this to a cemetery?  To people's loved ones?"

"We're just so saddened that someone would take these kind of measures to do this kind of thing.  To think we have that kind of people in our society and I've been praying for them," said Willie Jernigan Sr.

Thousands of dollars in damage was done, just a few feet from a church that burned to the ground three months ago.  Authorities aren't sure if the two incidents are related.  "Cemeteries are the target of some vandalism from time to time, but I've never seen anything like this," said Detective Delaney.

Johnson said she just can't understand it.  "They need to get God in their life or do something because stuff like this is just evil."

For now, Johnson prays detectives will find whoever walked over her son's grave and disturbed her family's final resting place.  Crimestoppers will pay up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.  If caught, they could be charged with Felony Vandalism and Criminal Mischief.

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