Community rallies for reward in cemetery vandalism

PLYMOUTH – Officials hope a reward will lead to an arrest in a case of vandalism at Oak Hill Cemetery.
Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter along with Chief of Police Jim Cox and Investigator Ted Brown held a press conference Friday announcing that community contributions toward the reward for information that leads to an arrest in the crime has reached $5000.
“As a former investigator I know about motives,” said Senter. “Quite frankly I don't get this.”
Vandals entered the Oak Hill Cemetery south of Plymouth sometime between the hours of 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday and destroyed grave markers in a section of the grounds. Superintendent Jim Ousnamer and Chief Jim Cox estimate the damage done by the persons unknown at around $100,000.
“This is a part of our history and as far as I'm concerned that is sacred ground,” said Senter. “This takes something from all of us in this community.”
Brown stated that he and Detective Sgt. Leo Mangus had a group of leads that they had been following up on since the crime was committed.
“Everywhere I go people want to know where we are on this crime,” said Brown. “It has obviously affected a lot of people. We need the public's help and we hope one of these tips will lead somewhere.”
The section of the cemetery receiving all the damage was established in the 1800's. Tri-Kappa and the Marshall County Historical Society had a history walk fundraiser planned for the area and it was preparation for that event that led originally to the discovery of the desecrated markers.
“We get periodic calls to the cemetery for acts of vandalism and damage,” said Cox. “But nothing of this magnitude. Theft of things left on grave markers you at least understand. People steal to sell, in order to get money. Senseless damage like this is just unbelievable.”
Ousnamer said that he and his crews have been working to restore the graves to as much of their original state as possible. Where they can, workers have made repairs. He says that when landscaping work slows down for the winter that other markers may be reparable but there are many that have been damaged beyond repair.
He says calls have been coming in from all over the country from concerned family members.
“I had a call from Alaska and another today from Colorado wondering if it were their family markers that were involved,” said Ousnamer. “So far no family members of the damaged markers have come forward.”
Those with information on the crime can call the Investigator Ted Brown or Detective Leo Mangus at the Plymouth Police Department 574-936-2126.