CRIME

Beltsville's De La Salle Cemetery vandalized

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BELTSVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - Authorities are looking for information on the people who vandalized a cemetery in Beltsville just after the holidays.

Photo: Prince George's County Police
Photo: Prince George's County Police

Prince George's County Police officials say that several gravestones and a statue at the De La Salle Cemetery were defaced sometime between Dec. 30 and Jan. 6.

In addition to about 13 headstones being knocked over and not damaged, authorities say that several other grave markers were damaged. The hand of a $34,000 statue at the front of the cemetery was also removed.

"It is sad to see the graves desecrated for people who gave their lives to work for others," Brother John McErlean, the director of LaSalle Hall, said.

McErlain, who runs a retirement community for the priests who care for the cemetery, says that the dignity of the graves deserve respect.

"I think they might need some kind of help to destroy something so sacred," he said."

De La Salle is the second cemetery in Prince George's County to be damaged in the past two weeks. On New Year's Eve, several headstones were tipped over by a backhoe at the Cheltenham Veteran's Cemetery.

It's also the second time in recent memory that this cemetery has been vandalized. Suspects hit the small, quiet cemetery in similar fashion about 10 years ago.

County Police officials say that of all places, vandalizing a cemetery is especially of concern.

"It certainly is troubling to see that somebody would go into such a sacred area and vandalize these things," Cpl. Maria McKinney said. "This is a cemetery where people come and bury and say their last farewells to their loved ones."

The brothers who care for the cemetery are considering installing security cameras to monitor the grounds. They also have insurance to cover the damage done to the stones and statue.

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