The family of a Korean War veteran from the village of St. Paris is demanding answers after finding his grave — and several others — damaged following a recent burial.
Elsie Windle, a resident of the village, said she had recently come to the Evergreen Cemetery to decorate the gravestone of her husband, Private First Class Everett Paul Windle, for the upcoming Easter holiday. But when she arrived, she found dirt and tire tracks all over her husband’s grave.
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“It’s kind of sad to come out and it looks like he was buried in a field or something,” she said.
Damage also had been caused to other gravestones in the area, she said, leaving some leaning at angles and others torn out of the ground. Deep tire tracks were also left across the cemetery.
St. Paris Mayor Brenda Cook said the damage was caused when a backhoe entered the grounds to excavate a new grave site.
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“The equipment was going in to remove the dirt and left tracks,” she said. “Everyone feels bad.”
Cook said the ground in the cemetery was very soft due to heavy rains around the time of the excavation. She said workers set down boards to prevent the damage but the equipment went off track.
“It wasn’t done intentionally,” Cook said. “It is being repaired.”
Evergreen Cemetery isn’t owned by the village, but St. Paris workers assist with operations there, she said. Because of the way the cemetery is set up, Cook said, it sometimes require workers to drive over the graves there.
“It’s an older cemetery,” she said. “You can see how close the headstones are together.”
The Springfield News-Sun couldn’t reach the owners of the cemetery for comment.
Windle said it isn’t the first time the graves have been damaged the cemetery but she hopes it will be the last.
“I just hope they take better care of it,” she said. “Whether you’re a veteran or not, it’s disrespectful to not take care of the plots they way you expect them to.”