Vandals Topple Century-Old Headstones On “Mischief Night”

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HANOVER TOWNSHIP – Workers at one cemetery in Luzerne County continued surveying the damage on “All Saints Day”, after vandals toppled more headstones at Oak Lawn Cemetery.

Authorities said that 18 headstones were toppled, a heavy bend was tipped over, and trees were littered with toilet paper sometime Wednesday night into Halloween morning, known by many people in the community as “Mischief Night”.

Debbie Wilk told Newswatch 16 that her family drove to the cemetery to make sure that her loved one’s final resting wasn’t vandalized.

“It’s ignorant and rude. Let the dead rest in peace,” said Wilk.

Wilk said her family’s headstone was not damaged, but cemetery officials said that 18 headstones were intentionally toppled over.

Oak Lawn Cemetery Administrator Charles Prohaska said that some of the headstones date back to the 1800’s, and that the cemetery’s insurance policy will not cover the damage.

"The homeowners insurance is supposed to cover it, but most of these people have been dead and buried for years. Where do you get homeowners insurance from them? So the cemetery is going have to absorb the cost of resetting these monuments,” said Prohaska.

If the vandals come forward, Prohaska said the cemetery board will consider asking police not to press criminal charges in the case.

"If its teenagers, have the parents pay for the damages and have the teenagers do community service here in the cemetery. We`ve got a lot of leaves that have got to be cleaned up. I think this would be a good punishment for them,” said Prohaska.

Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call Hanover Township Police at (570) 825-1254.