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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Nashua police offering $1,000 reward for information leading to arrest of cemetery vandals

NASHUA – Police are adding a $1,000 reward as an incentive in hopes of receiving information that leads to the apprehension and prosecution of those responsible for the extensive vandalism at Woodlawn Cemetery in March.

The investigation into the incident, in which roughly 80 headstones and the older grave markers called “tablets” were toppled and broken on March 13-14, began after the day’s first visitors began telling cemetery personnel they saw numerous stones on the ground and broken. ...

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NASHUA – Police are adding a $1,000 reward as an incentive in hopes of receiving information that leads to the apprehension and prosecution of those responsible for the extensive vandalism at Woodlawn Cemetery in March.

The investigation into the incident, in which roughly 80 headstones and the older grave markers called “tablets” were toppled and broken on March 13-14, began after the day’s first visitors began telling cemetery personnel they saw numerous stones on the ground and broken.

Police said anyone with information should call the Crime Line at 589-1665.

The investigation has been challenging, police said, mainly because of the lack of witnesses.

Lt. Mike Moushegian said about a week into the investigation that police weren’t sure how many suspects were involved. But he also said that when they’re apprehended, they could face a long list of felony charges.

“Each incident can be charged as a Class B felony,” while the damage amount is high enough to warrant Class A felony-level charges of criminal mischief, Moushegian said at the time.

The incident came up Wednesday night during the city budget review process when cemetery Superintendent Len Fournier told the Budget Review Committee that crews had four or so large stones left to reset on their bases.

After the vandalism
was reported, Alderman-at-Large Mark Cookson said he and the city’s legal department were looking at the possibility of appropriating city funds to cover some or all of the damage.

“We’re seeing if there are funds available for something like this,” Cookson said. “Does risk management have a role in this? That’s one of the things we’re looking into to see what we can do to help.”

That topic was debated Wednesday night, when Cookson and Mayor Donnalee Lozeau discussed whether interest from perpetual care accounts or other funds can cover at least part of the damage.

Lozeau said that isn’t yet clear.

“We won’t know until the work is done and we have a total,” she said.

Cookson asked Lozeau whether the city’s risk management was involved, to which she responded, “not yet” and indicated that risk management comes in later in the process.

“First, you let (cemetery) trustees and the city treasurer look at it,” she said. “Then, if necessary, we go to risk management.”

Police also said at the time that the age of some of the damaged stones, which date to the early and mid-19th century and are all but impossible to repair, adds a particularly troubling aspect that police could take into consideration when charging offenders.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).