Vandals break, topple 26 headstones in Deering
A maintenance crew discovered the damage to the granite and marble gravestones when they returned to the cemetery to conduct monthly upkeep of the town-owned property located along Deering Center Road - Route 149 - near the Hillsborough border, according to Town Administrator Craig Ohlson.
Ohlson said the vandalism must have occurred between visits to the cemetery, which is no long active, but is maintained by the town. He added the cemetery was used for about a century - from the 1800s to the mid-20th century.
"Some of the people died perhaps 60 to 70 years ago," Ohlson said.
While he hasn't heard reaction from residents, Ohlson said the Selectmen and Cemetery Trustees he's spoken to were "just appalled."Ohlson said the town contacted a company to determine how much it will cost to repair the vandalism, but has not received an estimate yet.
Capt. Thomas Cavanaugh said police have not identified any suspects in particular, but welcome any assistance from area residents, who can contact investigators at (603) 464-3127.
"Other towns have had vandalism, but this was pretty extensive," Cavanaugh said, adding it's a black eye to the community.
In Northwood last month, more than 12 gravestones were damaged or displaced in Canterbury Road Cemetery. About 150 to 200 residents - including some from early settlers and Civil War veterans - are buried on the property, which is surrounded by open fields.
While it was not the first case of vandalism, it was certainly the worst in some time, according to Sherman Elliot, who's served as superintendent of cemeteries in Northwood for more than four decades.
Northwood officials agreed to pay more than $1,000 to repair the damaged stones.Elliot suspects a mixture of teenagers, young adults and others to be behind the vandalism. He added the last burials in the cemetery occurred in the 1960s.
Police continue to patrol the town's graveyards and investigate the incident.