Boys vandalize graveyard

Written by Don Iler, Pilot staff writer November 01, 2013 07:01 pm

Two boys, ages 10 and 11, vandalized 24 headstones in the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery around 9 p.m. earlier this week. 

The parent of one of the children brought his son to the Gold Beach Police Department on Tuesday to report that his son and another boy had vandalized the headstones. The parent had heard a rumor about the cemetery being vandalized and had questioned his son about it. Police accompanied the father and son to the cemetery where police determined 24 headstones, most of them dating from the 19th century, had been toppled or damaged.

 Police contacted the parents of the second child and interviewed both boys about the vandalism. 

Alan McGuiness, a representative from the Rogue River Cemetery Maintenance District, said repairing the damage could exceed $10,000. The district does not maintain insurance covering vandalism to the Pioneer Cemetery.

“They’ve done damage to a good portion of the cemetery,” McGuiness said. “How two little kids did it is a mystery.”

McGuiness said the stones knocked over included many heavy stones, an unusual one made of quartz, and damaged statuary, which includes heads broken off of lambs on some children’s graves. Twenty-one of the stones are so heavy they cannot be flipped over to see the names on the gravestones. 

McGuiness said the repairs will require a stonemason, a person Gold Beach does not have. Picking the stones up and repairing them will also be difficult since many of the graves in the cemetery are unmarked and bringing in heavy machinery to lift the stones could cause damage to the graves. 

The Pioneer Cemetery, located just west of Ellensburg Avenue between Second and Third streets, contains the graves of many pioneers from Curry County and Gold Beach, the newest grave dating from 1931. McGuiness said reading the names on the graves was like looking at a list of street names in Gold Beach. 

Reports on both of the boys have been turned over to the Curry County Juvenile Department, and charges are expected to be filed.