Vandalism at Milford cemeteries worst case in 34 years

The damage done last week at two Milford cemeteries is the worst case of vandalism that Ray Scholl, superintendent of the Milford Cemetery Association, has seen here in his 34 years on the job.
Thirty headstones were toppled at the Kings Highway Cemetery off Cherry Street, and another 19 toppled or broken at the Milford Cemetery off Gulf Street.

Scholl was meeting with insurance adjusters Tuesday and did not estimate damage costs yet.
“Until I pick them up I won’t know the damage,” Scholl said as he looked at one stone that had been knocked off its base and was front-down on the ground. “They could be chipped or scratched.”
Scholl spotted the damage as soon as he drove into the Kings Highway Cemetery the morning of Friday, June 28, when he immediately saw several stones down in one area just beyond the Veterans Circle, where a huge flag flies. Looking beyond those fallen stones, he saw more toppled in the distance.
There is no pattern to the stones damaged, he said, pointing out that about six were knocked over in one area, and beyond that stones seem to have been attacked randomly.
He speculates the vandalism occurred last Thursday night, the same night vandalism was reported at Mary Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church in downtown Milford.
“I don’t know that it’s possible this was a one-person job,” Scholl said, pointing out that the stones are very heavy. He estimated that one of the headstones that had been knocked over weighs up to 700 pounds.
After he meets with insurance adjusters, Scholl and the small cemetery staff will start lifting the headstones and putting them back in place and working with families to determine if other repairs are needed. Exactly who is responsible for repair costs, the cemetery, families or insurance, depends on what the insurance adjuster has to say, according to Scholl.
Repairs at the Milford Cemetery, where some of the damaged stones date back to the 1800s, will be more difficult than at the Kings Highway Cemetery, where the stones are newer. Scholl said at least one of the older stones was broken into three pieces.
Scholl said police called him Monday night to say they had spotted more stones overturned, but Scholl said he counted and does not believe there was additional vandalism since last week.

Jenn Lugas, a member of The Friends of Milford Cemetery, said the group will be working with Scholl to help preserve and restore the damaged stones.

"The Friends of Milford Cemetery works hard to keep stones in the Old Milford Cemetery clean and upright," the Friends of Milford Cemetery said in a prepared statement. "All cemetery stones are of loved ones who have died; they area a memorial we can visit and remember the past. They are also a part of our history and help people trace their roots. Any time a stone is vandalized it diminishes this collection. This senseless act is not only an attack on the cemetery but on the lives of the relatives of those it holds within it's gates."

Many of the stones that were vandalized were those of children, the Friends said.

"Their parents grieved for them long ago and we grieve for them again now," the Friends statement reads.

Police posted news of their investigation on their Facebook page last Friday. People with information are asked to contact Detective Richard Mahoney at 203-783-4727.