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Oronogo cemetery vandalized; estimated $50,000 in damage - KOAM TV 7

Oronogo cemetery vandalized; estimated $50,000 in damage

Updated: July 30, 2009 05:21 PM CDT

ORONOGO, MO. - Officials believe the vandalism happened between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Thursday morning.

Oronogo police received a call around 8:45 a.m. about a few tombstones being knocked over in the city's cemetery, but when they arrived on scene they found over 50 overturned.

An estimated cost of damage - $50,000.

The cemetery houses plot as old as the Civil War era.

The cemetery is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week with police patroling it through the nighttime hours.

But cemetery supervisor Pete Miller says Thursday's vandalism is the first in five years, and the worse that he has seen.

"The damage that was done this time they didn't do in just a few minutes, because it's from one side of the cemetery clear back to the other side," Miller told us.

"Typically, the vandalism or the property damage type of stuff we don't really see in this area," says Oronogo Police Chief Jeff Fries.

Officials say there are a few leads on the case and are still investigating.

As for the cemetery, there is no constant funding and officials do not know how they will come up with the money to fix the damages.

"A lot of them was pushed over clear out of the ground," Miller says.  "So all of those is going to be set up and reset back in either with cement or set back in down into the ground and the ground firmed up around them."

The cemetery's only income includes donations and burial costs.

"Our budget does not have it in it," Miller explains.  "We are going to be lucky if we have enough budget this year to follow through on the full mowing season, so we have no idea how or where we are going to get the money from, but i am sure it will come, somehow."

And now they are hoping to have volunteers to help with the damage.

"We work hard, people and families have their loved ones in here and it just really - there's no reason to do it to me," Miller says.  "If these people were out here and their mother or father was in here, would they want somebody to come in here and do this to their family's graves?"

To find out how you can help, contact Cemetary Supervisor Pete Miller at (417) 499-3681.

The Oronogo cemetery was vandalized over five years ago, so police began shutting the gates at night.  When activity picked up the cemetery board decided to re-open the property to the public 24-7.

Officials did find some evidence are working on some leads.

If you have any information you are urged to call 417-673-1916.


By ELIZABETH MATTHEWS

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