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Sep 13, 2016 12:17 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Markers Vandalized At Southampton Cemeteries

Headstones damaged by vandals in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Cemetery in Southampton.  DANA SHAW
Sep 13, 2016 1:34 PM

Dozens of toppled and broken memorial markers were discovered at Southampton Cemetery and nearby Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Cemetery last week.

“You can put in a new one—but it’s just not the same,” said Eric Wright, the Southampton Cemetery superintendent, as he walked the grounds on Wednesday, September 7, examining damaged headstones and touching an old, 6-foot-tall marble cross toppled to the ground and broken in half. “These are irreplaceable,” he said.

According to Southampton Town Police Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa, the crime is estimated to have taken place between Saturday, September 3, and the morning of September 6. Southampton Cemetery had 12 tombstones overturned, with one stone broken, and Sacred Hearts had 20 tombstones knocked over, with one of them broken as well. Some of the markers date back to the 1800s, according to Det. Sgt. Costa, and the vandalism is considered a felony because the damage—while not yet fully assessed—exceeds $250.

All the markers at Sacred Hearts have already been repaired and set back on their foundations. According to Father Mike Vetrano, the work was completed in two days by Ken Rothwell and members of his staff at the O’Connell Funeral Home.

“They did it at no charge to the church,” Fr. Vetrano said. “It was a great effort and meant much to those families who had markers vandalized.”

Mr. Wright, who has been superintendent of Southampton Cemetery for two years, said he had never seen vandalism of this scale before, and that he suspects the process of making repairs will be protracted. He must reach out to the owners of the plots to see if they can foot the cost of the repairs, and if they cannot, the financial burden will fall back on the cemetery.

“We don’t have the time, manpower, or the money,” Mr. Wright said. “We have just enough to do regular maintenance, so we’re looking for donations.”

The Brockett Funeral Home has set up an online fundraising page to collect donations to assist the cemeteries. Funeral director Dominick Abbate said he set up the GoFundMe page Friday morning to help the cemeteries cover costs of repairs from the vandalism after seeing the toppled stones firsthand.

“There was a lot of damage,” Mr. Abbate said. “I thought we, as part of the community, should help out any way we can.”

Mr. Wright described the act of actually toppling over the gravestones—which can weigh 300 to 400 pounds—as a very deliberate effort.

“They’re very hard to push over,” he said. “They’re heavy and you can’t just go and pull them back up—you have to do it delicately. You have to be careful, these are very expensive things people do when their loved ones pass away.”

He said he hopes to be able to install a surveillance system, or gates at the entrances, to deter further damage at the 50-acre cemetery. And he said he suspects the vandals were teenagers.

“If they ever get caught, these kids are going to be in a lot of trouble,” he said. “It’s a shame. We were all young once, but to push them all over? What were they thinking when they did it?”

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Wish the Guardian Angels were in the area.
By watchdog1 (509), Southampton on Sep 7, 16 4:25 PM
Tragic! Hope those responsible are brought to justice.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Sep 7, 16 4:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
To whoever did this - totally not cool. Not at all.

Shameful behavior. Hope they catch the person(s) who did this.
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Sep 7, 16 5:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
F****ng animals.
By bigfresh (4050), north sea on Sep 7, 16 5:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
Wow, disgusting.
By dnice (2342), Hampton Bays on Sep 7, 16 5:35 PM
What a disgrace. I've never understood the reason anyone would do this. Just being destructive to be destructive.
By bb (852), Hampton Bays on Sep 7, 16 6:10 PM
When found they should be prosecuted and punished. No more they are good kids. Tired of the BS with the kids, poor kids.
By knitter (1604), Southampton on Sep 7, 16 6:13 PM
SH Town Police sound determined to catch these thoughtless hoodlums. Glad to see it. Can the public add to the reward?
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Sep 7, 16 7:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
This is beyond disgusting I hope that the individuals are caught and torn with guilt.
By Piercethefierce (2), Southampton on Sep 8, 16 12:39 AM
If one of those was my grandfather, rest assured they likely paying for it right now.
By even flow (808), East Hampton on Sep 8, 16 7:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By toes in the water (736), southampton on Sep 8, 16 7:37 AM
The article states it was kids !! Maybe it was a stupid adult ...
By Rhoffm01 (3), Riverhead on Sep 8, 16 9:32 AM
Kids? Based on what? Certainly possible, but, lots of this going on in Europe, may want to expand the scope of possible suspects.
By smacw (239), New York on Sep 8, 16 10:17 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By watchdog1 (509), Southampton on Sep 8, 16 11:48 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By toes in the water (736), southampton on Sep 8, 16 12:20 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By toes in the water (736), southampton on Sep 8, 16 12:21 PM
We have set up a gofundme page to help both these cemeteries begin to make repairs after this terrible event.

http://www.gofundme.com/2t9yfrrq
By Brockett Funeral Home (2), Southampton on Sep 9, 16 7:36 AM
Editor - any chance of updating the story to include this and help spread the word? Gofundme works best when people know about it!
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Sep 9, 16 10:45 AM
1 member liked this comment
Ah, is that so pw? The article didn't make it clear whether or not the insurance fund was going to be able to cover the costs, at least for SH Cemetery. It also said the fund will "help offset" the costs, which doesn't sound like it will completely cover them. Update from the Press would be appreciated so we can provide support if needed.

In the meanwhile, thanks to Brockett for trying to help after such a terrible event!
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Sep 9, 16 11:09 AM
pw - chill out. I didn't mean that to be sassy, I was seriously asking if it was so. If the state insurance fund is not covering full costs (which the article implies), I'd be happy to help out given how awful this act was. I'm sure other people would be too. Your post made me think you might have more information on the situation.

Also, your attitude is extremely unnecessary and uncalled for when I was just trying to do a nice thing. If you think donating $25 to a gofundme campaign and ...more
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Sep 10, 16 8:29 AM
1 member liked this comment
Very well said SH Rez ! No need for sassy comments regarding this article................
By toes in the water (736), southampton on Sep 10, 16 8:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
Very well said SH Rez ! No need for sassy comments regarding this article................
By toes in the water (736), southampton on Sep 10, 16 8:54 AM
Happy to donate money to this cause. My heart goes out to the families of those who's headstones were vandalize
By toes in the water (736), southampton on Sep 10, 16 8:51 AM
Sad that society is like this.
Before all the donations, wouldn't it be good to check if they have insurance? I'm all for helping if it is needed...
By knitter (1604), Southampton on Sep 10, 16 5:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
Dear Whoever did this:

I am sure you're just a bunch of kids who were probably drinking and fooling around and getting into trouble. BUT...let me tell you a story.

My little brother died of leukemia. My parents had a tiny gravestone for him and a beautiful angel standing on top. WAIT...

Then, both my other brother and my father got sick with fatal illnesses at the same time. They were both bedridden and my mother was trying to take care of both of them. My dad was going ...more
By DianeR (3), Hampton bays on Sep 11, 16 6:54 PM
2 members liked this comment
DianeR, thank you for sharing your story as emotionally difficult as it was. You and your mom are in my heart.

Hopefully karma will treat these morons as kindly as they have treated the Gravestones they ruined. And the heartache they have caused.
By toes in the water (736), southampton on Sep 12, 16 10:20 PM
P.S. And if you want to make it right, go try to fix it. Better yet, go to the police and confess and get it off your chest. Then work to earn money to repair your damage...and learn from the lesson.
By DianeR (3), Hampton bays on Sep 11, 16 6:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
I am so happy TOES................. is going to donate money and that he let us know.
By watchdog1 (509), Southampton on Sep 12, 16 9:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
Toes was actually being a nice, empathetic person and nothing about his/her comment was self-righteous. Your unnecessary post just to denigrate Toes is what's wrong here.

We should be coming together when things like this happen...
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Sep 12, 16 7:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
LOL an noted
By toes in the water (736), southampton on Sep 13, 16 7:59 PM
Brocketts may be taking donations, but it was on channel 12 that Ken Rothwell and the OConnels staff went in and rolled up their sleeves to make the repairs.

Thanks, Ken & the O'Connells staff!
By Draggerman (862), Southampton on Sep 13, 16 7:43 AM
1 member liked this comment
Brocketts may be taking donations, but it was on channel 12 that Ken Rothwell and the OConnels staff went in and rolled up their sleeves to make the repairs.

Thanks, Ken & the O'Connells staff!
By Draggerman (862), Southampton on Sep 13, 16 7:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
What is wrong with you? It's a little unseemly for you to be turning this into some type of demented contest. How about this. You do your thing and another family will do their thing. It's called being a community. The tackiness of your behavior completely overshadows any work that your pals might be doing and actually should make people question their motivation.
By SlimeAlive (1102), Southampton on Sep 13, 16 8:00 AM
1 member liked this comment
You don't think it's odd that 27East reported that Brocketts is raising money to repair monuments that are already repaired? News 12, news day and 1010 WINS reported that the repairs were made, 27East didn't report that.
By Draggerman (862), Southampton on Sep 14, 16 7:40 AM
In only three days this campaign has incredibly surpassed our goal, but this was not only about financial assistance.
As of today our page has been visited 1,007 times, shared on FaceBook 153 times with countless comments of support and encouragement. That is what this campaign has been about from the start. The outpouring of support and care from the community has been remarkable and we did this together, turning a tragic event into something positive.
In speaking with both cemeteries, ...more
By Brockett Funeral Home (2), Southampton on Sep 13, 16 11:38 AM
Thanks to all who donated and for Ken and his staff for doing the repairs for free. Heard he also offered SH cemetery to do it for free also.
Both funerals homes service each cemetery...
By knitter (1604), Southampton on Sep 14, 16 11:36 AM
1 member liked this comment