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Grave sites vandalized at public cemetery

June 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
With push brooms and buckets workers at the Twentynine Palms Public Cemetery took extra care in trying to clean up the mess.Two young adults are accused of vandalizing the public cemetery Sunday night. Headstones were knocked over, personal mementos were smashed making a mess of the final resting places for so many.

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"I was amazed at the amount of destruction that they did. We've had small amounts before, but never like this, they covered pretty much the whole cemetery," said cemetery worker Jess Reigard.

People who run the cemetery say vandals have struck before, recently in fact, but the damage has never been this extensive.

"I know I'm tired of it, we've been cleaning up for a while now. We've been cleaning up all day and we still have all this to clean up," said Reigard.

Nineteen-year-old William Bassine and 26-year-old John Etress were arrested.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department says after the suspects trashed the cemetery, they destroyed mailboxes in the area. That's when they were spotted.

"Neighbors were able to give deputies a description of the suspects, what they were last seen wearing, and their direction of travel because both suspects were on foot. They were running through neighbors yards trying to leave the cemetery after they had committed the vandalism," said Jodi Miller from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

Police have not said much about the motive, perhaps they only wanted to be destructive. Back at the cemetery, they can only wonder.

"I always thought a graveyard was pretty sacred. So I have no idea why someone would want to do this," said Reigard.

Both suspects are in jail on $25,000 bail. If convicted of felony vandalism to a cemetery, they could get up to a year in prison.

 

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