TARBORO — Family members say they are angry, outraged and heartbroken after vandals struck at a Tarboro cemetery this past weekend, desecrating dozens of graves.
Caretakers were stunned by what they discovered at the Edgecombe Memorial Park over the weekend. Grave markers were vandalized with satanic messages, benches had been pushed over and broken, and flower vases were damaged.
"If you spray paint the side of a building that's one thing, but to desecrate a cemetery where people's loved ones are buried, it's been a crisis situation," said cemetery manager Elaine Snyder.
Grieving relatives who heard about the attack wanted to see it for themselves.
"It's hard to lose your child," said Kenny Honeycutt, whose son is buried in the cemetery. "It's hard to lose anybody, but to lose your child and have somebody damage the gravesite the way these people have, it's heartbreaking."
The vandals toppled and broke a granite bench the Honeycutts dedicated in their son Kent's name.
Ann Chapman came to visit her in-laws' final resting place.
"It makes me sick to think someone is sick enough to do something like this," Chapman said.
Only an arrest, she said, would bring her peace.
"I'm hoping they find somebody and prosecute them. They don't need to run loose doing this," Chapman said.
Honeycutt has other ideas about what should happen to the people who vandalized the cemetery.
"I'd like them to spend some time with my wife, see her tears, see how heartbroken she is over this," Honeycutt said.
The Edgecombe County Sheriff's Department is offering a reward for information about the case. Once the vandals are caught, they will face felony charges.
Cemetery managers say their insurance will pay to restore or reorder the damaged markers and benches.