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Vandals go on Destructive Cemetery Rampage, May be Linked to Earlier Incident in Boalsburg

by on May 27, 2014 7:05 PM

For the second time this month vandals have gone on a destructive spree at a cemetery in the State College area.

This time, someone knocked over and damaged a total of 15 headstones at the Pine Hall Cemetery in the 1700 block of West College Avenue.

And Ferguson Township Police believe this incident may be linked to an earlier attack at the Boalsburg Cemetery in Harris Township.

The vandalism at Pine Hall Cemetery happened sometime between 7 p.m. Memorial Day and 10 a.m. Tuesday, when the damage was discovered.

"I was just sick, just totally sick," says Ron Strouse, secretary-treasurer of the Pine Hall Cemetery Association.

The incident happened just two days after Adam Hartswick, a U.S. Army medic who became a double-amputee while tending to wounded soldiers in Afghanistan, spoke during a Memorial Day service.

"If whoever did this had been here this Sunday and listened to Adam Hartswick speak, I think they wouldn't have done this. It was that moving," Strouse says.

Tuesday evening a steady stream of worried people was stopping at Pine Hall Cemetery, to check on the graves of family members.

Authorities have collected evidence at the scene.

During the first weekend in May, more than 50 headstones were toppled -- and in some cases smashed -- at the Boalsburg Cemetery. A $3,000 dollar reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in that case. The State College Police Department is investigating there.

"Ferguson Township police are working with State College police in the event this case is related to that which occurred in Boalsburg just before Memorial Day,"  police said in a prepared statement.

Anyone who has information about the crime or who may have seen suspicious activity should call Ferguson Township police at 814-237-1172.

Mayes Memorials is evaluating the total cost in damages.

The Pine Hall Cemetery Association handles landscaping and doesn't have insurance for the gravesites. Technically, the person who purchased the lot is responsible for the grave markers, Strouse says.

Once Mayes Memorials provides a cost estimate, Strouse says his group will determine if fundraising needs to be conducted to pay for the repairs.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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