Local News

Fallen Deputy's Grave Rededicated After Vandalism

Posted September 27, 2006 7:12 a.m. EDT

— Family and friends of a deputy killed in the line of duty 11 years ago gathered Wednesday for a memorial service as a new headstone was placed at his grave.

Vandals damaged dozens of headstones in the Sunset Cemetery in Smithfield in March, including the grave marker for Johnston County deputy Paul West. West was killed in September 1995 while trying to serve a warrant.

Angie West, his youngest sister, said the cemetery vandalism reopened old wounds for the family.

"It felt like somebody had killed him again," she said. "Mostly, it hurts that there are people who don't respect what he did or don't know."

The local Fraternal Order of Police chapter pledged to fix Paul West's headstone. His sons and other relatives helped unveil the repaired stone during a memorial service Wednesday.

"We stand here together with the family, friends and co-workers of Paul, not to mourn, but to remember a hero," said Jason Hutchins, of the Fraternal Order of Police.

"Let all of us honor the memory of Paul West by living lives that are worth of the sacrifice he made for his community," state Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety Bryan Beatty said.

A Greenville company fixed all of the other damaged headstones for free, so after more than six months, the cemetery finally looks the way it did before the vandalism.

"They've made it feel good to come out here again, and that is the point of (the service) -- to wash away what (the vandals) did," Angie West said.

Two 16-year-olds have been charged with the cemetery vandalism and are due back in court in October.