Vandals tore through the Storrs Cemetery on Sunday night, damaging around 15 gravestones.
The cemetery, located on the north end of campus, is 150 years old and contains gravestones dating back to the 1800s. Despite it’s age, Rene Lizee, the sexton of the Storrs Cemetery Association, said the cemetery has never seen this much vandalism.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had this happen to this extent,” said Lizee.
In part, Lizee’s job is to make sure the cemetery is maintained. When he drove through the cemetery at 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, nothing looked unusual. Lizee was informed about the damage the next day.
“One of our vendors in the local area was here to install something at about noon on Monday, and he noticed the damage,” said Lizee. “It had to have happened sometime between Sunday evening and early Monday morning.”
The vandalism took place in the old section of the graveyard, Lizee said. Many people who are buried in that area were from the Civil War era. The headstones are delicate, she said.
“The only way that one of these [headstones] are going to break is if someone forces it,” asid Lizee. “These headstones go back to the 1800s and they’re very brittle.”
Some of the stone markers were flipped over and torn out of the ground. Others were smashed and shattered. Lizee said the vandals left behind potato chips and a pen, which is not giving police much of a lead.
Lizee said he does not mind people walking thorough the cemetery as long as they are not destructive.
“We don’t discourage people from coming to the cemetery. We don’t monitor it on a 24 hour basis or have security cameras,” he said.
The Storrs Cemetery Association knows students cut through the cemetery to get to class and sports teams use it as a running path. It is important for those who utilize the area to be courteous of the deceased, as well as their families who expect the gravestones to be in good condition.
“This is a sacred territory and it should be treated that way,” said Lizee. “Just be respectful. That’s all I ask for.”
If students have any information regarding the vandalism in Storrs Cemetery, contact UConn Police at (860) 486-4800.
Katie Cavanaugh is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.