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Vandals hit Standing Rock Cemetery in Kent

By Diane Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published: October 23, 1997 12:00 AM

The markers knocked over were in the cemetery's northwest corner, an area containing some of the oldest graves in the cemetery. Many of the stones are dated in the late 19th century and the early part of the 20th century.

Cemetery Sexton Roger Donell told police he found the damage when he arrived at the cemetery Wednesday morning. The vandalism occurred sometime between 4 p.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Mayor Jerry Fiala, a longtime member of the Standing Rock Cemetery Board, said he was saddened by the vandalism and put up a $100 reward for information leading to the prosecution of those responsible.

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The reward is identical to the one Fiala offered two years ago, when an ornamental cast iron watering trough was stolen from the cemetery. Rick Bissler of Bissler and Sons Funeral Home in Kent added $900 to the reward, but the trough, one of Kent's oldest landmarks, was never recovered.

"It's unfortunate if someone wants to do a Halloween prank, they do it where we put our loved ones to rest," Fiala said. "We'll obviously do everything we can to put it right. It's sad there are some sick people in the community."

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Sgt. Dennis DeLuke of the Kent Police Department said police do not believe the vandals were motivated by a desire to desecrate graves. When that is the case, he said, there is usually damage to the grave itself or the graves belonging to a particular nationality are targeted.

"Usually this kind of thing is some sort of feat of strength," he said. "People like that are saying, 'See how strong I am to push over this heavy rock.' The fact that it's a headstone doesn't enter their mind. It's just a heavy rock."

He said similar incidents have happened before, and it is not unusual for them to happen around Halloween.

Fiala said he remembers other stones being pushed over, particularly in Pioneer Cemetery on Stow Street, where the oldest graves in Kent are located. But he could not remember a case where so many stones were overturned.

"It's a prank trick, a Halloween stunt," he said. "There are a lot of sick people out there."

He said there is a process to repair some of the old stones, and hopefully, the culprits would be apprehended and work on the repairs.

"We'll do everything we can to make this right," he said. "We owe that to the families."

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