You expect to find a place that is peaceful, serene, and calm to allow for reflection when you visit a cemetery. What you don't expect is vandalism. "We've had a series of crimes involved with people going into cemeteries, vandalizing the mausoleums, the gravesites, destroying the small vases," says Detective Charles Dotson with the Baton Rouge Police Department.
In the past months, Greenoaks Memorial and the Liberal Cemetery on Florida Boulevard have been hit, so too has Roselawn on North Street. Shelly Roy runs Roselawn Monument, which is just across the street. "The vandalism is probably pranksters. The theft is probably illegal operation," he says. He's had monuments stolen right off his property. Some have been stolen from the cemeteries themselves. The theft is bad enough, but the vandalism is what really leaves a mark.
That is especially true at Greenoaks. "Somebody actually went into the mausoleum, chopped the hands off the Jesus statue, smashed his nose," says Detective Dotson. They also spray-painted a number of crypts inside the mausoleum. For one family, though, it gets worse. "We have a particular gravesite that has been targeted," Dotson says.
Amber Foreman was killed by an accused drunk driver back on January 18th of 2007. In the past months, somebody has vandalized her crypt at Greenoaks three times. "The last time, they pulled her name plate off the crypt," says Teddie Pike, Amber's mother. They just ripped it right off. This is the same visit where the vandals painted up the mausoleum and wrecked the Jesus statue.
For Amber's family, these repeated attacks have caused incredible pain. "It's been hard enough to bury our daughter, but now, with all of this, it's a nightmare, a nightmare," Pike says. Somebody out there seems to find pleasure in this, and family members and police would very much like to find them. Police have made no arrests in any of the vandalism cases. If you can help, call Crime Stoppers at 344-STOP.