A cemetery in Albert Lea has been left counting the cost, both financial and emotional, after a vandalism spree left more than 100 gravestones damaged.
On Sunday night, 106 gravestones at the Graceland Cemetery – some of them dating back to the late 1800s – were tipped over or smashed by vandals wielding baseball bats, the Albert Lea Tribune reports, causing $14,000 in damage.
Earlier this year, about 40 gravestones were vandalized at the cemetery, with board president Sam Wedge telling the newspaper: "This is beyond the pale. It’s totally disrespectful of the living; it’s totally disrespectful of the people who have died."
Local resident Robert Lee, who has family buried in the cemetery, told ABC 6: "When you see something like this, it just tears your heart out."
"I just hate to see this damage and destruction in this area ... it's a beautiful area," he added.
A GoFundMe account has been created to help the cemetery raise money for repairs, and as of Thursday morning had raised $1,340 out of the $15,000 target.
The account, set up by Doc Bohlman, reveals parts of the cemetery's military section were also targeted in the crime spree, with pots tipped over and the light that illuminates the flag by the veterans' memorial smashed.
The Albert Lea Police Department says it is investigating the vandalism and wants to hear from anyone with information identifying the perpetrators.
Those who can help should call Det. Deb Flatness on 507-377-5219 or Sgt. Jay Crabtree on 507-377-5250.