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Vandals Strike Historic Salem CemeteryTim King Salem-News.com
Jason Lee is one of Salem's early pioneers. The cemetery contains his remains and many other early settlers as well as later residents. The vandals struck down headstones that had stood the test of time in some cases, for more than a century and a half.
(SALEM) - Most criminals at least have respect for the dead. Every now and then though, somebody stoops so low that it leaves people shaking their heads, wondering what possible kind of thrill a person gets by ransacking a final resting place.
It has always a subject of interest, and lately the historic Lee Mission Cemetery in Salem has been receiving positive work from many, ranging from community volunteers, to prison inmates.
But Thursday morning shortly after 7:00 AM, Salem Police received a call that nobody wants to hear; they responded to a report of extensive vandalism to headstones at the Lee Mission Cemetery, located at 2100 'D' Street NE.
Officers responding to the call say they found approximately 77 headstones that had been knocked over, a few of which were broken.
A quick stroll down any of the rows of headstones at this pioneer cemetery is like taking a walk back into history. You learn how briefly people lived in the 1800's. You see the children's graves, more of them than you may expect, and you wonder what life must have been like when a simple illness could quickly spell the end for a person.
Today it is a quick trip to the ER or Urgent Care, I think most of us in this day and age can not imagine how hard it was. The respect of ages, decade upon decade, toppled to the ground. People have become ghouls, the likes of which have never walked here before.
Investigators say the damage occurred sometime between 2:00 PM on July 5th when the grounds keeper left, and Thursday morning when he returned.
Salem Police Lt. Bill Kohlmeyer says the amount of damage has not been determined at this time but the President of the Cemetery association estimated it would be in the thousands of dollars.
There are no suspects at this point, but police are out looking and anyone with information is asked to call the TIPS line at 503-588-8477 and refer to case number 06-19475.
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