Vandals destroy 50 cemetery tombstones causing $100k in damage

Tombstones damaged by vandals at the Richland Township Cemetery in Butler County.

BUTLER COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Vandals caused over $100,000 worth of damage at Richland Township Cemetery in Butler County last weekend. The families of the deceased say the persons responsible have desecrated their loved ones resting place and compromised the integrity of their town.

“I just cried. I was heartsick. I felt very violated. Angry. It takes a special type of coward to attack deceased people.”

Eileen Purk’s husband is buried in Richland’s cemetery, and she says this was not an accident.

“I was just devastated. I walked over here and everything was gone off my husband’s grave. They had taken everything and just thrown it everywhere.”

Purk is not alone in this grief. Nearly 50 tombstones were destroyed. Headstones were cracked and pushed over, urinated on, and Veteran flags and memorial ripped, broken and stolen.

“They took a brick and threw it up against my wife’s headstone,” said Allen Simon, who has multiple family members buried in Richland’s cemetery. “I’m just angry and hurt. I don’t know what people are thinking; they need to grow up and respect peoples property. It’s just a cemetery, but that’s all I have.”

KSN met with seven different families, some who say the desecration of the cemetery site felt like reliving another death.

“I have great grandparents that are out here and then great aunts and uncles and then my dad,” explained Twila Ketterman. “I pulled in this driveway the day my sister called me, and I saw everything. I just couldn’t help but cry. It upset me and made me madm and I was ready to go find who did it because it just looked like a tornado or something hit it.”

The cemetery has been in Kansas for nearly 200 years so, some of the tombstones destroyed are not replaceable.

“Quite honestly, I couldn’t give you words harsh enough to describe how I feel about this.  To disrespect our departed is unthinkable to me,” said Township clerk, Rick Morris.

Butler County Sheriff’s Department says they are still investigating the vandalism, and the responsible party could be charged with desecration of a cemetery and criminal damages.


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