“Heartbreaking”: Family members saddened over cemetery being vandalized

LINCOLN COUNTY, Tenn. (WHNT) — You bury your loved ones expecting them to rest in peace, but that feeling has been disrupted for some families by what may be a group of vandals according to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department (LCSD).

A spokesperson with LCSD says three gravestones were vandalized at the Lincoln Cemetery on the night of May 8 or the morning of May 9 totaling $15,000 in damages.

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Visiting a loved one at the cemetery is already difficult enough, but seeing a family member’s tombstone damaged makes things even more heartbreaking. “It makes me mad, it makes me sad,” said Teresa Wilburn.

Wilburn says her uncle’s tombstone was damaged, but this isn’t a first-time experience.

“It was like living a nightmare because my grandparent’s headstone got hit a couple of years ago,” she said.

Wilburn feels some people fail to realize how a gravesite serves as a symbolic memory. The damage is one thing, but internally, she says it’s gut-wrenching to know someone harmed her loved one’s resting place.

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“It’s heartbreaking when you come and see something like this or people stealing stuff off the graves, I mean people have no respect for nobody living or dead,” Wilburn told News 19. “Those cost money to replace, it’s a disgrace.”

An LCSD spokesperson told News 19 that a man identified as Terry Johnson was recently arrested for stealing vases and flower arrangements from gravesides in a number of cemeteries across Lincoln County.

Deputies say those thefts happened at Kelso Cemetery, Kirkland Cemetery and Wright’s Cemetery, and they believe that other people were involved.

Investigators ask anyone with information on those thefts or the vandalism of those gravestones to contact LCSD at (931)-433-9821.

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