Preservationist Examines Vandalism At Historic Cemetery

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

VAN BUREN (KFSM)-Police say vandals knocked over dozens of headstones at Fairview Cemetery over the weekend.

Randy Smith, who's done historic preservation at the site for the past 11 years surveyed the damage Tuesday (July 21).

“I`m here today to take a further look at what`s been done and help formulate a plan to set things back right,” Smith said.

He told 5NEWS the vandals toppled 30 monuments, which can be reset and repaired. In addition to that, five headstones were broken, but Smith said two were broken in a prior incident. He said most of the damaged headstones were from the mid-to-late 1800s, but a few are granite from the modern day.

“A broken Victorian Era tablet marker, one of which I know is broken, can easily cost $2,500 to be professionally reassembled back together and preserved, so it`s expensive work,” he said.

Smith said it'll take two to three weeks to figure out how much all the damage will cost.

Calvin Archer said two of his uncles are buried at the cemetery.

“That`s a sacred place, that`s where people are laid to rest and for someone to go and do that, that`s barbaric,” Archer said.

“It`s an under-protected area in just about every city, so they need security,” Larry Williams, security expert said.

Williams is a former detective for the New Orleans Police Department and now works as a security consultant.

“One of the first things you should do in a cemetery is have a fence,” he said. “In New Orleans we use rod iron fences, and they work pretty good. Then probably security cameras if they can be afforded.”

Cemetery officials said they’re increasing their security while the crime remains under investigation.

If the suspect or suspects are found, police said they could face felony criminal charges. If you have any information about who may have vandalized the cemetery, call Crimestoppers at 78-CRIME or Van Buren Police.

Meanwhile, an account called the "Fairview Cemetery Preservation" is set up at First Bank in Van Buren if you're interested in making a donation towards the repairs.