Possible cemetery vandalism suspect
A 34-year-old man from Glen Carbon was arrested Saturday afternoon as part of a police investigation into vandalism at a Glen Carbon cemetery ahead of Memorial Day, according to the Edwardsville Police Department.
More than 200 headstones at Sunset Hill Cemetery in Glen Carbon were spray-painted with swastikas. The vandalism was discovered Saturday morning.
"Sometime during the night, somebody came through and painted swastikas all over," said Mark Johnson, the cemetery's grounds superintendent. "This is just a rough estimate, but it was somewhere around 200 markers that were painted. They also painted swastikas on our old office building and on two of our family estate mausoleums."
He added, "It's just unfortunate that they're doing it this time of year, because it's Memorial Day. That's a special day for us."
According to the Edwardsville Police Department, no charges had been filed as of Saturday. Additional information about the suspect was not released.
The cemetery contains the graves of more than 1,300 veterans, and cemetery officials were hoping to remove the paint in time for a Memorial Day event at Sunset Hill. The annual Memorial Day Patriotic Remembrance & Patriotic Balloon Release is scheduled for noon Monday.
Johnson said the vandalism was discovered about 7:30 a.m. Police were called, and investigators were still at the cemetery as of 10 a.m. He said efforts to remove the paint would begin later Saturday morning, after police finished collecting evidence.
"We're hoping we'll be able to get it all off," he said. "We can't do anything right now until the investigation is complete. When it's complete, they'll let us start seeing what we can do."
Laura Payne and her mother, Gerry Ramey, traveled from Centralia on Saturday morning to visit the gravesite of Payne's aunt and Ramey's sister.
They were grateful that the gravesite of their relative was not affected.
"It's very sad. And on this holiday," Payne said. "There's just no excuse for that."
"Except meanness," Ramey said.
Edwardsville Police on Saturday released surveillance video that, according to police, could show a suspect in the cemetery vandalism as well as other vandalism in Edwardsville.
Police said eight homes and two cars in a neighborhood near the cemetery were also spray-painted with swastikas.