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.


One Comment

  1. Hope they catch the bums soon and they’re tied to a tree in the cemetery and flogged

  2. Kate says:

    Those who perpetrated this crime deserve severe punishment. There is no defense or excuse. They will hopefully be found because they posted it on “social media,” or other means of their being shallow and selfish beings. Don’t open your mouths to say you were “bored,” “there’s nothing to do in your town,” “it was a prank,” etc. Your lawyers should know their attempts to say that you “need a program, not prison” or other jive will fall on deaf ears. Make them pay for the damage they caused, and double the damages. Prison time should include daily digging an 8 foot hole, laying down in it, filling it in and repeating the process. I hope you all will be haunted by the spirits of those whose resting places you dishonored, and doors will be closed to you.

    1. They should be taken to the cemetery and flogged

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