Pueblo County, Colorado
Roselawn Cemetery

Contributed by Karen Mitchell

Vandals Destroy Historic Markers

Vandals have broken numerous headstones and monuments, many of them historic, at Roselawn Cemetery.

At least 80 tombstones are hit at Roselawn Cemetery.

By Nick Bonham

The Pueblo Chieftain 8-9-2008

At least 80 of Roselawn Cemetery's oldest tombstones have been vandalized during the past two weeks.

The property damage occurred in the cemetery's historical section, where some of the headstones date back to the Blende burial ground's creation in 1891.

The likelihood of replacing the markers, monuments and statues - some carved in styles now extinct - is slim to none.

"In my mind they're priceless," Sherri Baca, Roselawn's executive director, said Friday.

Baca said she was "nearly in tears" when she drove out to view the latest rash of damage inflicted overnight Tuesday. "It's devastating," Baca said. "I think desecrating a grave is the worst damage someone can cause."

"It's the ultimate," added funeral home manager Kimberly Manchego. "Those are the first immigrants that came out here to Pueblo, the ones who first worked at CF&I (steel mill). It's really Pueblo's forefathers."

Vandals have struck twice in the past two weeks, according to the sheriff's department. Some of the headstones have been reset and repaired, but Baca said the cemetery does not have money to replace or restore the markers, which is a responsibility of the plot owner.

Because of the age of the graves, the repair possibilities and likelihood of contacting an ancestor are small.

Security cameras have been installed at the cemetery and sheriff's deputies are already patrolling the burial grounds more often.

"We've been lucky the last 25 years to not have any vandalism," Baca said. "I hope this is an isolated incident."

The 155-acre cemetery has 57,000 grave sites.

Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call Crime Stoppers, 542-7867, where tips remain anonymous. Or, call the Pueblo County Sheriff's Department at 583-6250.

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© Karen Mitchell