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Chatham Cemetery Vandalism Estimated To Be More Than $20K

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CHATHAM COUNTY, N.C. — Chatham County authorities are investigating whether two separate incidents of cemetery vandalism totaling more than $20,000 are related.

Investigators said about 78 headstones were pushed over or broken at Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church on Friday night.

About 149 headstones and memorials were discovered damaged on Monday at a cemetery at Lystra Road Baptist Church, located about five miles away from Friday night's incident.

"Anyone who'd think it's a big kick to come out and desecrate a sacred place like a church cemetery, well, if they don't answer on Earth, they will later," said Garland Neville, an Army veteran out at the cemetery on Monday.

In addition to overturned headstones, memorial vaults were also found with burned flowers, and there was evidence that vandals tried to dig up one buried vault, investigators said.

"Every morning I go to work, I look at my son's grave and pass by mom's grave," said Raymond Collins. "It gives me comfort. Now, I see the damage and it tears me apart."

Damage to the cemeteries is expected to take weeks to repair.

Anyone with information about either of the vandalism cases is asked to contact the Chatham County Sheriff's Office at