Troubles continue at Louisville's Eastern Cemetery

By Maira Ansari

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- WAVE 3 told you in July about the vandalism problems at Louisville's Eastern Cemetery. Since then, vandals have done even more damage to the property on Baxter Avenue. As WAVE 3 Maira Ansari reports, since our story aired, one man says he's seen many improvements -- but their is still one main problem to be solved.

Near the back of Eastern Cemetery stands a chapel. Below the chapel, you'll find a crematorium -- a place where remains were turned into ashes long ago. But now the crematorium is back up and running -- this time by vandals.

"This has always been closed and they've come down here and painted the walls since the last time we were here" said Charles Cecil. Cecil spends a lot of time at Eastern trying to keep the mischief makers away.

Not only is there more graffiti in the chapel, but Cecil says vandals are actually setting fires in the cremator furnace and tearing up whatever they can.

"See these wires hanging down this is the duct work right here -- that they are pulling down that runs off this great big blower system for the heating and air conditioning. You can see that they have tried to burn it. There is fire" says Cecil.

Inside the main part of the chapel, there is more destruction. There are more shelves turned over, more garbage and more writing on the walls.

"Reading some of this stuff -- jealousy, grave robbers, I'm still alive -- these are disturbing messages people are writing down inside this chapel that was once a place of peace and harmony" said Cecil.

Robert Hodges has relatives buried at Eastern.

"I didn't know him that long, but he always smoked a cigar and had a smile on his face a laugh. He was just that kind of guy," said Hodges about his wife's grandfather, John Lukemeier.

Hodges says Lukemeier had a passion for Louisville. He wrote for the paper and always had something to say -- and would never let something like this slide.

"I'm sure if he knew it was going to be like this, he'd be writing something in the paper. He would have something to say. I don't know what his words would be and I can't imagine what he would say when he would look around and see this," said Hodges.

But, there is an upside to Eastern. Cecil says since our story aired a month ago, he's seen better upkeep and more people visiting their loved ones and leaving behind flowers.

"This shows people still love their loved ones. They didn't even know it was in such bad shape till they come out and put flowers down. But now, it's giving it back life," says Cecil.

For now, Cecil says it's about keeping the vandals out. He would love to have iron gates and an iron fence -- and having someone take responsibility for the cemetery since it's been lost in the courts.

"These people here they were in the city before and they have left it to us. And I think we need to take care of where they are at because one of these days, we are gonna be in a place like this," says Hodges.

Also in July, we told you about a clean up effort at Eastern. WAVE 3 is working with the Kentucky Cemetery Alliance -- a non-profit organization that helps with abandoned cemeteries in Kentucky. They hope to have a cleanup date set sometime in October at Eastern. If you want to become involved in this volunteer effort, call 502-345-4593 or you can email them at kcalouisville@aol.com.

Online Reporter:  Maira Ansari

Online Producer: Charles Gazaway