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Historic cemetery vandalized in Stevensville

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Jan 07 2014 09:30:16 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 07 2014 10:00:35 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Increasing vandalism at a small-town cemetery is disheartening residents in a Montana town.

The Maple Wood Cemetery in Stevensville is home to headstones dating back to the mid 1800s.

Some of the town's founders are buried there and that's why Stevensville Mayor Gene Mim Mack is in disbelief that someone has vandalized 35 headstones.

“If this was your mother, father, grandmother, your son or daughter you wouldn't stand for it at all,” he says.

Mim Mack says he doesn't understand why someone would commit such a senseless crime.

“There's no rhyme or reason for this,” he explains.  “It's not just pranksterism, it's the intentional desecration of people's graves.”

He tells us it's going to cost the City of Stevensville thousands of dollars to get the headstones back into their rightful places and to get the broken headstone repaired.

Gene Sackey lives across the street from the cemetery.  He tells NBC Montana he saw one headstone tipped over in November but the problem keeps getting worse.

“It's a shame that people don't respect something like that and that they do malicious mischief like that and don't think anything about it -- it's sad, it's really sad,” says Sackey.  “It's just disrespectful as all get-out, even doing something like that.”

“These are not only historic gravesites but they also house our current citizens, and that kind of desecration is completely unacceptable,” says Mim Mack.  

The people of Stevensville insist they will find out who is doing this and vow to fix the damage.

This isn't the first time the Maple Wood Cemetery has faced vandalism problems.  Mim Mack tells us somebody tipped over or destroyed 15 headstones in September.

He says a city crew will reset the headstones hopefully next week.

The city is frustrated efforts have to be focused on vandalism instead of other city business like fixing streets.

Mim Mack is asking anyone with information to call Stevensville police at (406) 777-3011. There is a $500 reward for any information leading to a conviction.