The York County Sheriff’s Office is investigating vandalism that defaced nearly a dozen historic grave markers at a cemetery in East Waterboro.

The vandalism, which included profane words and drawings spray painted on nearly 200-year-old memorial stones, was reported to the sheriff’s office by a person who noticed the damage while delivering mail in the area on Dec. 23.

Angela Tibbetts, chairperson of the Waterboro Cemetery Committee, said a deputy recently notified her of the vandalism in the town-owned Roberts-Wakefield Cemetery on Townhouse Road. After she went to the cemetery to assess the damage Sunday, she posted photos on Facebook and asked for help finding the people responsible.

Gravestones and memorial markers belonging to both the Roberts and Wakefield families were damaged and the cemetery sign was covered with spray paint. The stones that were damaged were from the 1830s to 1900.

Ten memorials – including six that belonged to children who died before turning 13 – were defaced. Some of the stones marked the graves of children who were younger than 6 months old when they died, according to the committee.

“Cemetery vandalism is a crime not only against the deceased and their families, but against the whole community that these individuals helped shape. It is absolutely disgusting and beyond disrespectful,” the cemetery committee wrote.

Sheriff William King said his department is continuing to look for leads on “this unfortunate and disrespectful incident.” The criminal mischief complaint was taken by Deputy Duane Fay, who described finding footprints in the snow in the cemetery.

Fay estimated in his incident report that the vandalism likely happened between Dec. 17 and 21 based on when it had snowed. Neighbors of the cemetery told Fay they had not seen anything out of the ordinary and did not have security cameras that showed the cemetery.

Fay estimated the damage to be more than $1,000.

Tibbetts said the committee will have to wait until spring to try to clean up the vandalism. That will be a difficult task because of the age and condition of the stones, she said.

“The marble is so old that the surface of it is grainy and comes off if you touch it,” she said. “It’s really hard to clean spray paint off of it.”

After Tibbetts posted about the vandalism, dozens of local residents posted their dismay at the act and called for the people responsible to be charged, she said. RSD Graphics, which made the cemetery sign, offered to repair or replace it at no cost.

The committee asked anyone with information about the vandalism to call 207-651-1059 or to contact the sheriff’s office at 207-324-1113.

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