New Market Cemetery vandalism leaves thousands in damage

One of the many acts of vandalism was the tipping over of a large stone cross. (Photo: ABC7)

A Frederick County community continues to grieve Wednesday night, days after they say someone vandalized the tombstones of dozens of people at a local cemetery.

Authorities say the damage at the New Market Cemetery was done this past Sunday and that at least 20 stones were vandalized. It could take as much as $50,000 to repair the damage.

Police currently have no suspects or any motives in the crimes.

"It's like a part of me that they've desecrated," Shirley Young, whose grandmother, Leila, had her headstone vandalized in the spree. "I just certainly hope that they find the individuals that are responsible."

Cemetery treasurer Michael Sponseller believes multiple vandals could be behind the acts. He points to one desecration - the removal of an 800-pound stone lid from one gravesite - as something a single person couldn't do.

"If I try, I can move it an eighth of an inch," Sponseller said.

In another instance, a giant cross was also toppled. It happened before Sunday, but it is believed to have been done by the same group.

"It's very fortunate that nobody was in the way of that when it was pushed over, because if it landed on top of them, it would have killed them," Sponseller said.

Others, meanwhile, have rich histories. One gravestone that was damaged belongs to the Hyatt family, which officials say is the namesake for the city of Hyattsville.

While authorities search for suspects in the case, all people like Young and others can do is pray for justice.