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Vandals Topple Gravestones in Two Santa Ana Cemeteries

April 10, 2002|DAVID HALDANE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Vandals rampaged through two Santa Ana cemeteries Monday night, knocking over 33 gravestones, police said.

"There was no graffiti with religious or ethnic connotations," Santa Ana Police Lt. Bob Chavez said Tuesday. "It's just vandalism--[everything] points to kids."

Cemetery workers discovered the damaged monuments after reporting to work early Tuesday at Santa Ana Cemetery and adjacent St. John's Lutheran Cemetery, both among the county's oldest, in the 1900 block of East Santa Clara Avenue. "We just showed up for work and all the headstones were knocked down," said Julio Amarillas, site supervisor at the county-owned Santa Ana Cemetery.

Most of the damaged monuments--some of which were broken in several places despite weighing nearly 1,000 pounds--date from 1876 to the early 1900s, Amarillas said. Among them, he said, was a stone marking the grave of Orange County's first brewer and another memorializing two pioneer children.

"I was pretty upset when I walked in today," he said. "I was in shock--we're still trying to get hold of the families."

In the meantime, Amarillas said, cemetery workers have begun repairing the monuments with a special glue, a process expected to take until Friday. At least eight of the monuments, he said, cannot be repaired.

"They will be set back in the ground to look like flush markers," Amarillas said. "They will no longer be upright."

Police say they have no leads in the case. "Hopefully we'll get some people to call in and give us something to work with," Sgt. Don Bray said.

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