R.I. veteran graves vandalized days before holiday

WEST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. (WPRI) — Police in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, are investigating after vandals damaged several veterans’ headstones at a local cemetery, just days before the celebration of Veterans Day.

In Pleasant Hill Cemetery, a toppled tombstone – etched with the words “Forever soul mates” – marked the grave of Joyce and Gerry Comeau.

Officials were first notified about the vandalism on Sunday, when workers found two tombstones pushed over, vases smashed and flags snapped in half.

“This is the fourth time since 2012 that we’ve we had vandalism,” said Lauren Delaney, who runs the cemetery. “Each time it’s been before a holiday. And 95-percent of the stones hit have been veterans.”

According to Delaney, it usually takes up to four people to carry the stones that were targeted.

“This isn’t something one person can be going through here and doing,” she added. “It’s very disheartening. It really is. You don’t know whether to be sad and cry or to be angry and fight back.”

Delaney said Comeau found her husband’s grave vandalized Sunday – when she came to visit.

“She came down here … to visit her husband’s grave because it was their anniversary yesterday. To find the stone knocked over. The fact that it being near Veterans Day, being the day of their anniversary. It’s heartbreaking,” she said.

Another grave that was destroyed makes where Joe and Lillian Andre were buried. Their granddaughter walked through the cemetery just one day after their stone was toppled over.

“Just completely devastated,” she said.

Police said there are no surveillance cameras in the cemetery and they currently have no leads.

“It’s just unheard of,” said Lt. Victor Flaherty of the West Bridgewater Police Department. “It’s just disgraceful.”

Police are now asking for the public to reach out if they know anything about the crime.

“If anyone had seen something or anybody hears things or social media,” Flaherty said. “Just give us a tip and we’ll take it from there.”

Delaney said the cemetery is trying to raise enough money to install security cameras. They have set up a GoFundMe.com page, click here to donate.

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