Vandals cause destruction at SWAR cemetery - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Vandals cause destruction at SWAR cemetery

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HOPE, AR (KSLA) -

A Southwest Arkansas sheriff's department is investigating vandalism at an area cemetery and what was taken, has deputies asking why anyone would destroy a final resting place.

"In 34 years of law enforcement I have never seen anything like that," said Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton.

The upheaval happened at Memory Gardens Cemetery near Hope, AR. Someone even robbed a grave of cremation remains.

"The box was left here, the ashes were removed in a plastic bag and taken up to that tree up there and set under a tree," Singleton said.

The vandalism did not stop there as more than 115 vases were stolen from other graves.

I don't know why anybody will come to a cemetery and destroy it," said Wendy Pharr, co-owner of Memory Gardens.

Today, people were cleaning up the destruction left behind. Cemetery owners said they were able to recover most of the items removed from the graves.

"We have been here all our life and it saddens us because we have family here too at this cemetery," said co-owner Scott Brown.

Areas affected by the vandalism were the gardens of peace, grace and serenity.

"We are just working real hard to try and get the vases put back where they belong to that families that lost their vases and just try and show respect for the families and do our best to try and get things put back," Pharr said.

Singleton is asking those who have family members buried at Memory Gardens to check and see if any damage was done to the graves they visit.

"I hope to get a resolution to this pretty soon and get the person who is responsible," he said.

Anyone who can help crack this case should call the Hempstead County Sheriff's Department at 807-777-6727.

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