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Juveniles vandalize gravestones in Edgerton

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Kayla Bunge
October 17, 2009
— Three boys have admitted to police they destroyed more than 100 gravestones at three local cemeteries late Sunday night.

The Edgerton Police Department has referred to juvenile authorities a 10-year-old, 12-year-old and 14-year-old boy on charges of criminal damage to property. The Rock County Sheriff's Office plans to do the same, said sheriff's Sgt. Kerry Schlittler.


Groundskeepers at Fassett, Jensen and St. Joseph cemeteries in Edgerton found dozens of gravestones knocked over and broken Monday morning during routine checks of the grounds. Some of the gravestones date back to the early to mid-1800s.


About 100 stones at Fassett Cemetery in Edgerton were vandalized, and several wooden crosses and small urns at Jenson Cemetery in Fulton Township were broken.


"My stomach sank," said Philip Buhrow, who maintains the two cemeteries. "I just felt like puking. I was devastated."


The groundskeepers for several years have been working to repair the old gravestones that had deteriorated, he said. But now they are fixing up a storage shed at the cemetery so they can repair the broken stones without having to move them very far this winter, he said.


"The city is not even responsible for that, but we took it upon ourselves to do it," Buhrow said. "We wanted to honor the people who are buried there."


The groundskeepers have picked up some of the gravestones and set them on their foundations, he said, but they still need to secure the stones to their foundations.


The groundskeepers also have cordoned off the sites of the broken gravestones, he said.


Repairing the gravestones will require a lot of careful work, Buhrow said. The groundskeepers will have to drill holes in the broken pieces, insert pins in each piece and secure the pieces together with a quick-setting cement, he said.


But the old stones were made of a soft material and could crumble under pressure or vibration, Buhrow said.


"We just have to be real careful," he said.


About 25 gravestones at St. Joseph Cemetery were vandalized.


"It's kind of disgusting," said Jon Peterson, sexton at St. Joseph Catholic Church. "It's just not a place for kids to do that stuff."


Repairing the gravestones could cost between $300 and $400 apiece with labor and materials, the groundskeepers said.


Schlittler said the boys told Edgerton police they were hiding from cars in the cemetery and accidentally knocked over a gravestone. They told police they saw how easy it was to knock over one stone and started knocking over more stones, he said.



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