Illinois Graveyard vandalized with swastikas, community comes together to clean the gravestones

(GLEN CARBON, Ill.) — A manager at a southwestern Illinois cemetery said Sunday that most of the gravestones spray-painted with swastikas have been cleaned and would be in good condition as families visit on Memorial Day.

Cleaners scrubbed the paint off most of the more than 150 markers since Saturday morning, when the vandalism was discovered, family services manager Jeanne Brunette said by phone from Glen Carbon’s Sunset Hill Cemetery.

The cemetery is nondenominational and there didn’t appear to be a pattern to which gravestones were defaced, Brunette said, adding: “We did not see that he was targeting certain family names.”

Police in nearby Edwardsville announced on Facebook that a 34-year-old man was apprehended Saturday as the suspected vandal. They haven’t provided details, including what might have motivated his actions.

Several dozen volunteers showed up to help cemetery staff clean the gravestones, while others brought food for the workers, Brunette said. She said that display of support was heartwarming.

In a difficult situation, that support amounted to “a big hug from the community,” she said.

Edwardsville police Sgt. Justin Towell told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that multiple homes in a subdivision were also vandalized, saying the same person may be responsible for both incidents.