AUGUSTA — The cases involving the destruction at Monmouth Ridge Cemetery have been laid to rest.

The mother and daughter accused of ramming into each other’s vehicles in the cemetery 13 months ago both pleaded guilty Tuesday to criminal mischief. The same day, the Monmouth Cemetery Association sought a dismissal of a lawsuit they filed against the pair seeking restitution for the $33,837 in damages.

And Wednesday, the association picked up a check for about $25,000, the settlement amount negotiated with the automobile insurance company.

“The nine members of the cemetery board are greatly relieved and grateful to the Maine court system that encouraged the settlement of the case,” said Hugh LeMaster, association president, on Wednesday. “We feel a large measure of responsibility to the families. Now that we actually have seen funds received, then we’re going to be able to move forward and talk to the monument company for replacement and repair.”

He added, “The whole town, I think, is breathing a sigh of relief.”

The damage was done on Sept. 27, 2013, by Melissa K. Grant, now 43, of Farmingdale, and her daughter, Savannah N. Lowe, now 21, of West Gardiner.


Monmouth police Chief Kevin Mulherin said at the time that Lowe tried to keep Grant from leaving the cemetery by hitting the mother’s vehicle with her vehicle because Lowe believed Grant was intoxicated, although Mulherin said police couldn’t prove that and didn’t charge her for it. The daughter hit her mother’s car with her car, then the mother hit the daughter’s car with hers, Mulherin said.

“They ended up hitting each other’s cars and taking out some gravestones,” he said.

Several days later, Grant denied the police account in an interview, saying Lowe’s foot got stuck on her vehicle’s accelerator and smashed into her car, damaging the stones in the process. She said her father was buried there. Grant said at that time she was working with her insurance company to pay for the damage to the headstones. The incident at the cemetery resulted in toppled and destroyed monuments and headstones.

On Tuesday, in Kennebec County Superior Court, Grant pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and operating beyond license restriction. She was sentenced to 180 days in jail, all suspended, and one year of probation. Conditions of that probation ban her from being at the cemetery unless she calls the association first and receives permission, according to Justice Robert Mullen’s order. Grant also was fined $100. She was represented by attorney Donald Hornblower.

“The objective of the victim from the beginning was to be able to repair the damage,” Hornblower said. “It enabled the association to get the amount of money needed to repair the damage.”

The same day, her daughter, Lowe, pleaded guilty to criminal mischief. She was sentenced to 180 days in jail, all suspended, and one year of administrative release. During the first 10 months of that time, she was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service work. She is also banned from returning to the cemetery.


“She accepts responsibility for her role in the events that day,” Lowe’s attorney, Matthew Morgan, said on Wednesday. “We’re certainly pleased the cemetery association has been reimbursed and feel it’s a fair outcome.”

The other charges against the women were dismissed in exchange for the pleas.

“One of the difficulties we faced was how to prove who caused what damage,” District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said on Wednesday. She said she spoke to association members about their desire to get the money to have the damage repaired. “We wanted the case to be completed as soon as we could so they could receive the money to repair the damage.”

The cemetery contains roughly 1,000 graves, some dating to the 1700s, and is still actively used for burials.

“We have to replace the shattered stones,” said Karen Cyr, association secretary. “These are white marble tablets from the 1800s. They did horrible damage.”

Some of the toppled monuments require a crane to be lifted back into position.


Last month the association filed the civil complaint in Kennebec County Superior Court against the two women after it appeared that the vehicle insurance would not pay for the damage. However, there was no evidence in the court file indicating that either woman was formally notified of the lawsuit. On Tuesday, the association’s attorney, Theodore Small, sought the dismissal of the complaint in a letter received by the court.

“There’s a lot of souls buried in that cemetery, and the association’s board is the one that can speak for them,” LeMaster said. “Whether it was a risk or not, we felt we had to do something on behalf of those people who couldn’t speak for themselves anymore.”

He said the all-volunteer association agreed to settle for about $25,000.

“It was a lot more than zero that we were offered for many months,” he said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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