Vandalism at Forest View Cemetery amounts to thousands of dollars
The Forest View Cemetery in Forest Grove is facing thousands of dollars worth of damage after two juveniles vandalized multiple gravestones on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 24.
Police apprehended the juveniles, who are now facing multiple charges related to the incident, that afternoon, according to Mike Hall, spokesperson for the Forest Grove Police Department.
The juveniles knocked over a bench outside the cemetery's mausoleum as well as 18 gravestones, many of which were more than 100-years-old and will be difficult to repair, said Randy Ince, the cemetery manager.
Police responded to a neighbor's report on Sunday that kids were kicking over flowers and throwing flags placed at gravesites, Hall said.
When officers arrived at the cemetery, the juveniles ran from police but were shortly stopped. Officers then noticed the damage to the gravestones, Hall said.
One gravestone was erected in 1888 and will require a full replacement. But Ince said it won't be the same because manufacturers don't make the specific type of limestone anymore.
"They're going to be lucky if they can even come close to matching it," he said.
On Wednesday, the Oregon Memorial Association told Ince that it will cost at least $5,000 to make the repairs. That's if nothing unexpected comes up during the repair process, Ince said.
"They even tipped over the pads that they're set on so they'll have to redo those and glue them together and all kinds of different things," Ince said. "It's going to be time-consuming."
He's also concerned he won't be able to contact the family members of people whose gravestones were damaged, he said.
"I've got some they tipped over that are old; I mean really old," Ince said. "As far as getting a hold of family, I wouldn't have a clue about how to even go about that because some of these I'm not sure there's any family left."
Ince plans to check with funeral homes connected to the gravesites, but said he isn't hopeful he'll be able to contact many of the families. If funeral homes don't have family contact information, the only other option will be to check the phone book, he said.The names on the gravestones are common and will have several listings.
"They're so old that some of those funeral homes are not even in business anymore," Ince said. "If a family member comes by and says, 'yes, my headstone is tipped over,' then I can tell them exactly what happened and that we're in the process of getting it fixed."
Ince has been the manager of the cemetery for 27 years and said he's never had vandalism on this scale.
"It almost looks like they were going around looking for the old ones," Ince said. "Why? Why would someone do that? It just doesn't make sense to me."
On Sunday, police took the juveniles to the Washington County Juvenile Department, which released the minors to their parents, Hall said. The News-Times does not name juveniles charged with crimes unless they are being tried as adults.
The suspects have been charged with first-degree criminal mischief and interfering with a police officer.
Any restitution to be paid the cemetery will be determined by the Juvenile Court when it hears the case, Hall said.
By Max Egener
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