INDEPENDENCE, LA (WAFB) - Two boys have been accused of vandalizing dozens of graves in an Independence cemetery.
The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office says both boys, ages 14 and 12, were arrested on multiple charges involving damage caused at Colonial Cemetery on Wednesday, October 12.
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Arriving deputies found more than 50 grave sites desecrated, 32 of them broken into. In addition to seven structures housing human ashes opened and dumped onto the concrete walkway.
Sheriff's office spokeswoman Dawn Panepinto says numerous personal items left at the graves were damaged or completely broken, as well as, multiple American flags removed, damaged and thrown to the ground. Anything that was exposed to the elements was removed and secured in an open vault until cemetery officials are able to repair the damages. Cemetery officials will be contacting the family members of those affected to inform them of the incident.
The estimated value of damages will be extensive however are unknown at this time.
Panepinto says one of the suspects was found hiding on top of a mausoleum and another found riding a bicycle nearby.
Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards said, "This kind of vandalism attacks the defenseless and the emotions of many of their loved ones. A cemetery should be a sacred place and this should never happen." He concluded by saying, "It's a crime that inflicts an enormous amount of pain and suffering among families. Those responsible will be held accountable and must also understand the damage done here far exceeds aesthetics."
Both boys were taken to the Florida Parish juvenile detention center. They were charged with 50 counts of criminal damage to property, 50 counts of desecration of a grave, and 32 counts of simple burglary.