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Cemetery board burdened with repairs after vandalism

DOWAGIAC, Mich. -- A 19-year-old has been arrested for vandalizing tombstones at the Riverside Cemetery in Dowagiac. Most of the damage was in the oldest part of the cemetery, which could make repairs costly.

According to police, more than 60 headstones were damaged by 19-year-old Enos Dominique-Wolfgang Butrick III Sunday night.

On Wednesday, residents of Dowagiac went to see the damage for themselves.

"When you see this type of damage it just breaks your heart,” said Bob Schuur, Chairman of the Cemetery Board.

"Man. That's terrible,” said Ben Pond.

The headstones marked the graves of prominent people whose remains have gone undisturbed for more than 100 years.

"Some of the people that we the founders of the city of Dowagiac, their headstones are gone and it's just horrible,” said Schuur.

Wednesday morning crews began fixing what they could, lifting heavy pieces of granite back into place.

The granite markers appeared to suffer little physical damage, but markers made of softer material did not fare as well.

"Just to see one right after the other destroyed, recklessly, it's so disrespectful,” said Schuur.

"Definitely disrespectful. Disrespectful for the families, especially the gravestones that belonged to the families,” said Pond.

Families that no longer live in the area.

"Their families are not here to redo the repairs and so that will have to come out of the Cemetery Board,” said Schuur.

That will put stress on the already burdened Cemetery Board’s funding that brings in just enough to maintain and operate the grounds.

Schuur says they will try to fix as many of the headstones as they could. He fears that some of them will be beyond repair.

Butrick faces the following charges:
Conspiracy to commit malicious destruction of tombs and memorials $1,000-$20,000 with a maximum penalty if convicted of 5 years and/or $20,000

Malicious destruction of tombs and memorials $1,000-$20,000 with a maximum penalty if convicted of 5 years and/or $10,000

Conspiracy to commit malicious destruction of personal property $1,000 - $20,000 with a maximum penalty if convicted of 5 years and/or $20,000

Malicious destruction of personal property $1,000-$20,000 with a maximum penalty if convicted of 5 years and/or $10,000 or 3 times the amount of destruction or injury, whichever is greater

Conspiracy to commit false report of a felony with a maximum penalty if convicted of 4 years and/or $12,000 and Filing a false report of a felony with a maximum penalty if convicted of 4 years and/or $2,000
 

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