The grounds crew at the historic Caseyville Cemetery noticed several headstones missing on Monday. The headstones they were used to trimming around were missing: one, then another, and still more. Seven in total were gone. Two more were discovered missing Wednesday morning.
They were either broken off or pulled from their bases. The stolen stones were mostly illegible, dating to the mid-1800s, just after Caseyville was founded.
Police are looking at whether there’s any connection among those taken.
Bob Stephens, treasurer of the Caseyville Cemetery Association, was going through records to put names to them all.
The crimes were senseless, he said.
“There’s nothing to be gained by doing it. You can’t sell these things. They’re worthless -- can’t even read them. It’s sad,” Stephens said. “You just feel violated. It’s such a peaceful place.”
“It’s kind of a big deal,” said Caseyville Police Chief Tom Coppotelli. “People don’t take this lightly. These are memorials to loved ones. No matter how long they’ve been deceased, it’s still someone’s father, mother, brother, sister. (It’s) pretty brazen to take them and just drive away.”
Stephens had matched at least one missing stone to a name: James Thorley. The plot was purchased in the mid-1800s. He knew of no Thorleys still in Caseyville.
As for possible motives, police were considering everything from some type of initiation, to a dare or prank, even someone using them for Halloween decorations.
If you have any information, you’re asked to call the Caseyville Police Department at 618-344-2151.