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Dozens of gravestones vandalized at Clearfield Co. cemetery

By Maria Miller 

CLEARFIELD BOROUGH, Pa. -- It's a disheartening story: Police are trying to track down three young men who they believe broke into a Clearfield Borough cemetery and destroyed dozens of graves. Police said they have the suspects on camera but need help identifying them. 

"I came up and that's when I discovered that there were a lot of stones knocked down," said Matt Franson, caretaker of the Hillcrest Cemetery in Clearfield Borough. 

At least 65 gravestones were either cracked, pushed over or smashed. Others were defaced, including several veterans whoseflags were cracked in half. Police said it happened early Thursday morning. 

"We estimated damage somewhere in the ballpark of $10,000 or more and that's just a preliminary estimate at this time," said Chief Vince McGinnis of the Clearfield Borough Police Department. 

The graves range in age from as recent as this year to others that date back to the early 1800s. 

"This one here is old marble and I don't know if there's any family left who could come forward and have it fixed," said Franson. 

The suspects were able to get away but not before being captured on cemetery surveillance cameras. Police said it looks like three men in their late teens are their lead suspects. The men are seen in the video entering the property at 4:45 Thursday morning. 

"They came here and ended with this monument right here cause that is the last monument that is hit," said Franson. 

While the damage is heartbreaking enough, Franson and police agree that trying to comprehend why is even harder. 

"It's just a devastating thing to happen," said Franson. 

"It's just disheartening that something could happen in a small town like this," said McGinnis. 

Anyone with information is asked to give the Clearfield Borough Police Department a call at 814-765-7819.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times