3 teens booked for St. Peter Cemetery vandalism

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 10, 2012

By robin shannon


RESERVE – A trio of teenagers were booked with misdemeanor criminal damage and desecration of graves charges this week in connection with a night of vandalism at St. Peter Catholic Church Cemetery in Reserve last Friday night.

Capt. Dane Clement, spokesman for the St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Office, said deputies received a handful of calls last Saturday morning about damage at the cemetery, which included vases from tombs and burial plots being thrown about the historic cemetery. He also said a gravestones were knocked over.

“There was a lot of simple damage, but none of the graves were seriously disturbed,” Clement said. “It still made many residents uneasy about what was being done to some of their family members’ burial places.”

A few residents were out at the cemetery Wednesday fixing up graves and adding fresh adornments where items were moved and destroyed.

Andy Guidry of Reserve said the news was disheartening and disturbing.

“I didn’t see all of the damage, but I know that the entire main corridor was littered with broken vases, flowers and other things,” he said. “It’s really disrespectful to the individuals buried here as well as to the families who take the time to fix up the tombs and plots. I was glad to hear that someone was apprehended for it. Sad to hear that they were teenagers.”

Guidry said some residents tried to come out to the cemetery last Saturday but were denied entry because the grounds were closed as part of the investigation. The cemetery curator said all of the damage has been repaired and the cemetery reopened Sunday. He added that the gates would be locked at night from now on as a precaution to prevent future incidents.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans released a statement that read, “Any vandalism at a cemetery is disappointing. Those tombs and burials under perpetual care, essentially insured and maintained by the archdiocese, will be completely repaired by the archdiocese.”

On Tuesday, Clement said a 14-year-old came into the Sheriff’s Office and gave a statement to detectives about the incident. On Wednesday, deputies arrested another 14-year-old and an 18-year-old on the misdemeanor charges. The names were not released, and all three have been released from custody, Clement said. Sheriff Wayne Jones said Thursday that the case against the teens was forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office to determine prosecution.