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Vandals destroy country cemetery


Rich Schneider's disgust is evident.

So much so he's actively seeking the public's help in locating whoever might be responsible for trashing a turn-of-the-century cemetery in the northern reaches of Trego County.

"The latest marker I saw was 1880," said Schneider, Trego County's sheriff.

The cemetery, along a busy county road north of WaKeeney and then about 4 miles west of U.S. Highway 283, is known as the Saline Valley Cemetery.

It's so old that no one even knows who owns it, according to Schneider. A sheriff's deputy this morning had to get the full name of the cemetery from the Trego County Historical Society.

Schneider said he had contacted the person who cares for the cemetery, mowing its grass. But that person only does it because he lives in the area.

Be that as it may, the vandals went in to the cemetery sometime Saturday, perhaps even Friday, and damaged every headstone.

Every headstone, save for one, was knocked over. The remaining headstone was severely damaged, a large chunk of it knocked out.

The damage was reported Sunday. The cemetery is at the intersection of 210th Avenue and B Road, which is a fairly busy county road.

In some cases, Schneider said, the smaller headstones were used to damage and destroy the larger pieces.

"Somebody went in and destroyed it," Schneider said of the cemetery. "They didn't just tip the headstones over, they broke them."

While there are only 12 or 13 stones, Schneider said the damage was significant.

"They worked at it," he said of the effort involved in inflicting the damage.

In at least one instance, a headstone perhaps 14 inches wide by 2 feet long was used as a battering ram on a bigger headstone.

"They carried it a few yards and tried to use it to break another headstone," Schneider said. "It was just mean."

There are actually 15 stones at the cemetery, according to an online inventory of Trego County cemeteries, but two of the stones were used for four children who were killed in a house fire in 1886, according to the cemetery Web site. The children ranged in age from 2 to 10 years old.

"I can't believe it," Schneider said of the extent of damage. "I don't know what kind of people do that."

Anyone with any information about the vandalism can contact the Trego County Sheriff's office at (785) 743-5721.