Grave markers missing from North Philadelphia cemetery

NORTH PHILADELPHIA - August 27, 2013

The markers are missing from the Mount Peace Cemetery, which dates back to 1865.

Countless veterans are buried there, and the grandson of one of those vets contacted Action News after he found the grave marker missing.

Anthony Johnson, of Flourtown, paid the visit on Sunday and discovered the bronze grave marker was gone.

"I looked around and finally it dawned on me that quite a few other plates were missing," he said.

Anthony's grandfather, Joseph Fatio, was a World War II veteran who was born in 1911 and died in 1987. His wife, Edna, was buried alongside him in 1999.

Johnson, himself a Navy vet, can't believe anyone would desecrate his grandparents' grave.

"That's the last thing you would ever expect to happen is to have anyone- let alone a veteran- have plates stolen off his grave," said Johnson.

Reginald Gaskin, the grounds superintendent for 22 years, said his crew comes across the missing markers as they do their maintenance. He believes the thieves are selling the bronze as scrap.

"Below human. It's got to be next to murder," he said. "That's the way I feel."

After Action News got involved, Johnson was assured by the cemetery owners, The Odd Fellows Cemetery Company, that they would contact the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs to replace the marker at no cost.

"When you're talking about veterans, people that fought for this country, you would think that they would be the last ones that would ever have to pay anything else," said Johnson.

A woman who answered the phone said she did contact the VA but refused to answer other questions.

As for why there were no police reports filed, the VA said a police report isn't necessary. They will take a cemetery's word that a grave marker needs to be replaced and they will do so free of cost.

The Johnson family is considering getting a stone marker instead of bronze one.

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