PLYMOUTH – Plymouth Police have made an arrest in the case of vandalism to Oak Hill Cemetary.
In custody are Jonathon Tanner, age 20 of Nutmeg Ridge Drive in Plymouth and Gage Hix, age 19 of Walnut Street in Plymouth in relation to the case. Two juveniles are also suspects in the damage at the cemetery that occurred on Sept. 26. Officials also stated that one of the suspects also had pending drug related charges.
Estimates on the damage are around $100,000. The announcement was made at a press conference Wednesday Morning at the Plymouth Common Council Chambers by Police Chief Jim Cox, Det. Sgt. Leo Mangus and Investigator Ted Brown of the Plymouth Police Department and Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter.
Investigator Ted Brown and Det. Sgt. Leo Mangus of the Plymouth Police Department conducted a nine day investigation into the crime which gained national attention on the internet and in published sources such as the Chicago Tribune and USA Today.
Brown said that he had interviewed numerous people and received numerous tips in the case, but the offer of a $5000 reward by local citizens helped break the case.
“The people I interviewed this week that helped break the case heard the announcement on Friday of the reward and wanted to be sure they got their share,” said Brown of the information that would lead to the arrests. “There is no doubt the reward was the reason for their coming forward. They had very specific information regarding the crime.”
The division of the reward amongst sources will be decided upon if there is a conviction in the case.
“It appears that the subjects met at the home near the cemetery and began drinking alcohol,” said Mangus. “That’s when they proceeded to the cemetery and engaged in the activity. It appears that one of the individuals had engaged in turning over headstones on a previous occasion and gained a thrill from that activity.
“Three of the suspects have confessed to the charges.”
Cox confirmed that the incident on Sept. 26 was the third report of damage or vandalism at the cemetery.
“We’ve never had a report of this magnitude,” he said. “I do have several family members buried there and this was very disturbing.”
“This is part of Plymouth’s history and ancestry,” added Senter. “I just find the whole thing totally mind boggling.”
Sometime in the overnight hours of Sept. 25 into Sept. 26 it is alleged that the four entered the cemetery and did damage to approximately 110 gravestones. Twenty of the markers were damaged beyond repair. Most of the damage was limited to an area in the cemetery of markers from the late 1800’s.
Tri-Kappa and the Marshall County Historical Society were scheduled to have their yearly History Walk fundraiser in the cemetery which led to the discovery of the damage on the morning of Sept. 26. The walk went on as planned.
Reading from a prepared statement Cox also thanked Plymouth High School and the Plymouth School Corporation for their cooperation throughout the investigation.