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Vandals damage headstones

SETTING IT RIGHT: Employees with Magnolia Monument Company reset grave stones knocked over by an unknown suspect Thursday night. About seven grave stones were knocked over by the vehicle at the First Baptist Church of Carriere.

SETTING IT RIGHT: Employees with Magnolia Monument Company reset grave stones knocked over by an unknown suspect Thursday night. About seven grave stones were knocked over by the vehicle at the First Baptist Church of Carriere.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

By Jeremy Pittari

Picayune Item

Sometime overnight Thursday the First Baptist Church of Carriere’s Cemetery was vandalized.

Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Shane Tucker said two visitors walking in the cemetery Friday morning noticed the crime and reported it to the sheriff’s department just before 9 a.m.

An investigation by detectives located evidence that a vehicle was used to perpetrate the act. Tucker said tire tracks and other evidence found on scene will be used to identify and locate the suspect vehicle and the suspects involved.

“They hit one that weighed 1,500 pounds so hard that they drug it 30 feet,” said Neville Miller with Magnolia Monument Company.

Miller and his crew were at the cemetery Friday afternoon resetting the headstones to the upright position. Miller estimates the cost to replace the headstones to be $15,000 to $20,000. That figure does not reflect the actual cost to reset them.

However, Tucker said some of the headstones did suffer chips, and may need to be replaced. According to state statute the charge would be malicious mischief to a cemetery or church. Tucker said if the cost to repair the damage exceeds $300 that charge will become a felony. Tucker is awaiting an actual cost of the damage.

The church’s pastor, Rev. William Gary Smith said he hopes whoever is responsible for the vandalism will decide to live their lives according to the golden rule from Matthew 7:12, “do unto others what you would have them do to you.”

“We just pray for those who did something like that,” Smith said.

Miller is offering a $500 reward for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the suspects. Tucker said he is in the process of offering a reward through Crime Stoppers for similar information.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department at 601-403-2530 during business hours or 601-795-2241 after hours.