Man arrested, community upset after vandalism in cemetery

Man arrested, community upset after vandalism in cemetery

SENATH, Mo. (KAIT) - A Missouri Bootheel man is in trouble accused of vandalizing a cemetery, and people in town are not happy about the act.

Several headstones, large and small, but mostly older headstones were knocked over in the Senath Cemetery.

“It is so disrespectful,” Senath Cemetery board member Keith Morgan said.

The cemetery is a quiet place where people come and visit loved ones or just walk around, but on Wednesday morning, people were greeted with a horrifying sight.

“It was bad because the gentleman who mows and everything, he was hysterical about it, and I understand when we came back out and saw it,” Morgan said.

Several grave markers in the cemetery, many from the early 1900′s, were knocked to the ground.

“When they seen this, it was like I can’t believe this really happened in Senath because we’re not used to things like this at all,” Morgan said.

Senath Police Chief Omar Karnes said Thursday that Johnny Orf of Senath was arrested and charged with Institutional Vandalism.

Morgan is happy that a suspect was caught so fast.

“Usually when you have cemeteries that have damage like this you never find who did it.”

But, the damage left many people driving through to check on their loved ones, and all were upset at what was left behind.

“We’ve had a few people that voice their opinions pretty stout and said I’m really glad it wasn’t mine.”

Morgan said there are plans now in the works to fix the grave markers damaged.

“We’ve already had a gentleman come out and tell us possible costs, and we’re going to get them fixed because a lot of these stones, the families are gone and we really don’t want a lot of people to have to put out of their own pockets.”

While this might be a setback, Morgan said they will get things back to where they were before the vandalism.

“We’re trying just to get our feet back under us and start a new day.”

Chief Karnes is also asking people not to get out to the cemetery and try to set the monuments back up themselves.

He said the police department is needing to get an estimate on how much damage was done.

If you would like to help in the future, Chief Karnes said to give him a call.

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