Vandals Break Headstones, Cause $50,000 In Damage At Historic N.J. Cemetery

WYCKOFF, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There was horror and disgust Wednesday night over a vandalism spree at a cemetery in Wyckoff, New Jersey.

As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, 50 gravesites were disturbed, and the vandalism resulted in $50,000 in damage.

As the sun set and peeked through the trees, it cast a glow on the damage to the gravestones at the centuries-old Wyckoff Reformed Church Cemetery.

“It’s so disrespectful,” said George Bechtold of Hawthorne.

Bechtold and his wife, Carole, walked hand in hand, hoping and praying that the final resting place for Carole’s mother was spared from vandals.

“Immediately, I hung up the phone and said, ‘We got to go, see how mom’s doing.’” Carole Bechtold said, adding that her mother’s headstone turned out not to be damaged.

But in the tone of Carole Bechtold’s voice, it was clear that she was heartbroken that anyone should have to find historic headstones cracked in half and toppled over in the dirt.

“This gentleman died in 1847 – and his stone is snapped off for no good reason,” Cemetery Association President Nancy Mattera said as she examined one headstone.

Mattera said the destruction was discovered on Monday, and she is looking into leads that it may have been a bunch of kids going through the area Sunday night.

Mattera said she has gotten calls from people around the country — wondering if their loved ones’ gravesites were vandalized. In some cases, she doesn’t know what to say, because so many of the stones are face down in the ground.

Determined to get every last gravesite fixed, Mattera is putting her faith in police to catch the criminals. The Bechtolds are too.

“Hope that it doesn’t happen again — too sad,” Bechtold said.

In the meantime, they all said it is definitely time for cemetery surveillance cameras.

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