LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — At least one person has been arrested after more than 175 bronze vases were stolen off graves in two southwest Louisiana cemeteries.
More than 100 vases were stolen from Consolata Cemetery in Lake Charles and, next door, nearly 70 vases were taken from Prien Memorial Park.
Kevin Leger said seven of his loved ones are buried in Prien Memorial Park, KPLC-TV reported.
“My grandmother has got her vase missing, my sister, Micheal Lejeune, my mommy and daddy, and his brother and his wife all missing their vases,” Leger said. “There’s no words, no words that could comprehend when you come out to the graveyard and you just see your families graves just desecrated like this. It shouldn’t be like that."
Sue Way said she went to visit her husband's grave recently to recognize his birthday and found his bronze vase stolen too.
“I was heartbroken, heartbroken for my husband but for all these other graves that had been desecrated, and I can’t imagine what kind of person would do this,” Way said.
At least one arrest has been made in connection with the investigation: Kenneth Stillson, 36, of Ragley. He faces several charges including aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, desecration of graves, obstruction of justice, aggravated flight from an officer and illegal possession of stolen things. He was being held without bond at the Calcasieu Parish Jail. It was unknown if he has an attorney.
All 112 vases stolen from Consolata Cemetery have been recovered, and 34 of the stolen vases from Prien Memorial Park Cemetery have also been recovered, authorities said.
Bubba Brasseaux, managing director at Prien Memorial Park, said they are working to get in touch with the families of those affected by the thefts.
“When someone steals something off their grave, it brings all those emotions back. It’s kind of like reliving their death again because the pain is still there and now there’s just more pain because of what’s happened,” Brasseaux said.
“If anyone has a loved one interred in Prien Memorial Park, and they are concerned that their final resting place may be affected, they can feel free to contact our office, and we will be happy to assist them,” the cemetery’s general manager, Joel Brinkley, said in a statement.