UPPER MARLBORO, MD -- Two dozen headstones were vandalized over the weekend at the second oldest and continuously run church in Prince George's County.
24 headstones were knocked over at St. Thomas' Parish Church in Upper Marlboro, Md. which was founded in 1732. The Prince George's County Police Department (PGPD) said the incident likely took place sometime on Friday night.
"It’s devastating. You feel bad about it and hope that it doesn’t happen again," said Richard Bergren, the church's acting sexton. He added that it was his wife who discovered the damage on Saturday night when she came to lay flowers at their son's grave. "Seems to me like they went along and pushed what they could go, what would fall, and what didn’t fall didn’t. You can see there’s one up, one down, one up, one down."
Police said they believe that more than one person was involved in the vandalism.
"Because some of the headstones here are a couple hundred pounds. Some of them are actually mortared in, so it would take more than one person to flip them over," said PGPD Maj. David Renner.
Police added that they don't believe any certain headstones were targeted, but Chief Hank Stawinski called it a "careless, wanton act" against a historic landmark.
"This is our collective heritage. And as I’ve said before, I’m not from someplace else. This is my home and I take this as a personal affront," added Stawinski.
Church leaders says none of the headstones appear to be so damaged that they need repairs, but costs of reseating them will be over $10,000 and at this point they don’t know if everything will covered by insurance.
PGPD detectives are asking for tips about this case. Anyone with information is asked to call 301-868-8773. A cash reward is being offered. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477), text “PGPD plus your message” to CRIMES (274637) on your cell phone or go to www.pgcrimesolvers.com and submit a tip online.