Police investigate cemetery damage in Bustleton section of Philadelphia

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Headstone toppled at St. Luke's Cemetery in Bustleton. Annie McCormick reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on August 22, 2017. (WPVI)

Philadelphia police are working to determine whether someone intentionally vandalized gravestones at a cemetery in Bustleton.

Police say at least twenty headstones were toppled over at St. Luke's Memorial Cemetery in Bustleton on the 1900 block of Welsh Road, amounting to thousands of dollars in damage.

The historic cemetery nestled behind St Luke's Church has plots dating back to the Civil War.

Five of John Litzke's relatives are buried at the cemetery and their headstones are among the damaged.

"My family has been in this church since 1891. I have quite a history here and this really disturbs me," Litzke said. "I don't want to tell you what's going through my mind because I'd like to meet up with the people who did this, that took joy in turning these over."

A caretaker found the toppled tombstone shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday and called police, then contacted members of the church's property committee including Thomas Truesdale, who says members are devastated.

"What kind of person could do this? Who could do this? Why would you want to desecrate a cemetery?" Truesdale said.

This is now the fourth cemetery vandalism under investigation by Northeast Detectives in recent months.

In other cases, two of the cemeteries were Jewish and one was Catholic. St Luke's is Episcopalian.

Police don't believe this was a hate crime, instead possibly local teens drinking and causing havoc.

"We still investigate it, but the clues at the scene lead more to the kids where we didn't have that in some of the other cases," Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum said.

The property committee has talked about getting cameras because of recent vandalism at other local cemeteries. Now, they say they will definitely put a system in place.

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Watch the report from Action News at 4:30 p.m. on August 22, 2017.


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Related Topics:
philadelphia newscemeteryphiladelphia policeNortheast Philadelphia
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