JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – A Region 8 woman said she wants justice after finding her family's gravesite destroyed. Juanita Schmidt, whose family is buried at Pine Hill Cemetery near Craighead Forest Park, told Region 8 News someone had set flower arrangements on fire, and knocked over headstones.
"I haven't been out here in about a month and a half because I've been kind of busy. I came out here the other day, and it just shocked me. I was hurt. I looked at it, and I just left," said Schmidt.
Schmidt said she visits the site where her mother and father are buried every other week. During the summer months, she'll help her cousins clear the area of debris and place flowers next to the headstones.
"When we clean around 'decoration day', Memorial Day weekend, we found condoms out there. We found drugs and everything else. I called the police and asked them if they would patrol out here. I said to just drive through here and back out you know, and I have never seen one do that," said Schmidt.
Region 8 News contacted David Clines, who maintains the cemetery. He said he's seen suspicious activity before, and has contacted police to see how often they patrol the area. Schmidt said she's never seen an officer patrol the cemetery.
"I never done anything about it because I didn't figure it would do any good. This time they hit home," said Schmidt. "I want to see somebody take care of the cemetery, and maybe the police go through here and patrol once in a while, and see what's going on out here."
Schmidt said she believes teenagers are responsible for the vandalism. It's the fourth time her family has been targeted, Schmidt said.
"They don't respect the dead. They don't. It's just something to do for kicks--for good times," said Schmidt.
"The vandalism that goes on out here is because I think the cemetery isn't taken care of. People think, oh this is an old cemetery. It isn't going to hurt to do anything out here," said Schmidt. "It's kind of here in the back, and I think it's a hangout place for people to do things and be away from being seen."
Schmidt said she has spent $250 on flower arrangements. She's also purchased multiple headstones for her family. She said the attack on her family's gravesite is irresponsible.
"I just know what I feel like inside. I know everybody doesn't feel the same way, but to me, it's very difficult," said Schmidt.
"When I say my prayers at night, I always thank God for giving me such good parents and growing up and teaching me to be a good woman," said Schmidt. "You couldn't even see the date of my birth on there to where they threw something on it."