20+ graves, headstones vandalized at Racine's Mound Cemetery

RACINE (WITI) -- More than 20 graves and headstones were damaged by vandals at Racine's historic Mound Cemetery over the last weekend.

Racine police say sometime between Friday March 21st and Monday March 24th unknown suspect(s) damaged or pushed over 24 headstones throughout the cemetery. Some of the damaged stones date back to the 1880s and are irreplaceable.

"Anger and disgust. I could not believe it was happening although it happens to other cemeteries; people just don`t understand the purpose of cemeteries," said cemetery supervisor Steve Bedard.

Monte Osterman owns a granite and marble business in town. When he sees the fractured tablets and overturned headstones, he thinks of the work that went into these monuments.

"There is some significant craftsmanship in this, probably for one guy, about four weeks of work just in that one piece and it was done in a time when the tools and technology did not exist to be able to do it the way we can today," said Osterman.

Ultimately, those who care for the historical found say it's a matter of basic decency.

"At some point in time, they're gonna have a loved one or they themselves are gonna be in a place like this and they're gonna expect people to leave their headstones alone," said Bedard.

Right now, Racine, which owns the cemetery, does not known who will pay for the repairs. Bedard is just trying to track down relatives and let them know their loved one's headstone was vandalized.

Mound Cemetery is a treasure of Wisconsin -- and even American history. 39 of Racine's former mayors are buried there in addition to a Medal of Honor recipient from World War II and one of Abraham Lincoln's photographers.

"The cemetery is actually between one and three thousand years old and gets its name from the Mound Indians that were in this area at one time," said Bedard.

If you have any information that could assist in this investigation please contact the Racine Police Department Investigations Unit at 262-635-7756.

You may also contact Crimestoppers at 262-636-9330, or by texting RACS plus the message to CRIMES (274637) and referring to Tipsoft I.D. #TIP417 with your text message.

Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.