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Easton Cemetery Is One Of Many Hit By Vandals

EASTON, Conn. – The attack by vandals on Union Cemetery in Easton, causing $50,000 in damages, is just one of many similar incidents that have taken place at cemeteries across Connecticut this year.

A total of 55 stones and monuments were overturned in the Aug. 3 incident.

In May, 29 gravestones were damaged at the Old Burying Ground in Watertown. In February, 20 graves were vandalized at the St. Lawrence Cemetery in West Haven. Late last year, 16 sites were destroyed at Pachaug Cemetery in Griswold and 255 headstones were toppled at Old St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Waterbury.

Five people were arrested and charged with first-degree criminal mischief and interfering with a cemetery in the Waterbury incident. Under state law, interfering with a cemetery or burial ground is a Class D felony punishable by a fine of not less than $500.

The cemetery attacks happen in cycles, said Ruth Shapleigh-Brown, executive director of the Connecticut Gravestone Network .

“Ghost adventures are cycling high again,” Shapleigh-Brown said, referring to the myth of the White Lady in Easton and spiritual figures in other towns that prompt cemetery vandalism. “A dozen stories in the past year, all ghost hunting. People get the attitude, and it’s sad because it’s our history and it’s horribly expensive to fix it.”

The Easton event may have occurred for two reasons, she said. “The cemetery is located in a rural area, so there’s nothing nearby to keep a watch on it, and it’s not well lit.”

She called on the utility company to install lighting “so it gives police the advantage and curbs the appetite for people to fool around in the dark.”

The Easton police were investigating the Aug. 3 incident. “We’re making progress, but no arrests are imminent," Police Chief James Candee said. "It remains an active investigation.” Candee had asked for citizen calls, but he declined to say whether he had received any.

The cemetery is closed after dark. The police, he said, will issue infractions for trespass to anyone found there at night.

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