HARRISON COUNTY, IN (WAVE) – Indiana conservation officers are condemning vandalism at a two Harrison County cemeteries as an inexcusable crime.
As many as 40 grave sites were vandalized. Several concrete headstones were tipped over and broken.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources is investigating the incidents at Cold Friday and Greenbrier cemeteries. Both are in the Harrison-Crawford State Forest.
The two cemeteries are about a half-mile apart, and you can't access them by car, so this was not an easy crime.
"It was a concentrated effort by the vandals to do this damage," Harrison-Crawford State Forest Property Manager Dwayne Sieg said.
In order to pull something like this off, conversation officers believe more than one person was involved.
"A lot of this is now state forest," Indiana Conservation Officer Jim Schreck said. "It used to be farm ground, so homesteads, many of them date back to the 1800s."
Last week, Indiana conservation officers discovered dozens of headstones damaged. Many of them were knocked right off their concrete base.
"It truly makes us questions the suspects' moral values and their character," Schreck said.
The family history has been studied and documented by friends Cheryl Proctor and Charlotte Davis for decades. Cold Friday and Greenbrier cemeteries mean a lot to them as both have ancestors buried there.
"First I was in shock, then anger, then I cried the next day," Proctor said.
They can't understand why someone would do this.
"Your guess is as good as mine," Sieg said. "I don't know."
As investigators look to add security cameras and beef up patrols, family members can't help but feel personally attacked.
"My heart was broken not just for us, but for Harrison County and old Scott Township and the people," Davis said. "That place is important to a lot of people because that's where a lot of our people settled."
Property managers will work with a local volunteer restoration group to make the necessary repairs.
Anyone who has information about this crime is urged to call the Indiana DNR tip line at 1-800-TIP-IDNR.