Tennessee men charged with vandalizing more than 150 headstones

The markers were knocked over and damaged in the Cedar Grove and Wilson County Memorial Gardens cemeteries in Lebanon, Tennessee.

“As someone who has family interred in both Cedar Grove Cemetery and the Wilson County Memorial Gardens, I am angered by the vandalism that has happened overnight,” the official said. mayor of Lebanon, Rick Bell, in a post on Facebook. “It was an act of vandalism against everyone who has family members there and against our entire community.”
Local men Justin Emler, 31, and Jeremy Heaton, 23, have each been charged with one count of vandalism over $60,000, police said in a statement posted to Facebook on Saturday.

“In regards to the absolutely heinous acts of vandalism that occurred at our local cemetery, our hearts go out to the loved ones who have been impacted by this senseless crime, Police Chief Mike Justice said in the statement.

“Our promise will be to pursue the prosecution of all applicable charges, as well as to keep all victims up to date and informed as we move forward,” he said.

Police say the couple also confessed to vandalism at the Lebanon Country Club, and further charges are to follow.

CNN has not been able to determine whether the men have obtained legal representation.

Police had offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to a conviction that “well over” 150 headstones had been knocked down and damaged. “The estimated damage is in the tens of thousands of dollars,” they said.

Wilson County Memorial Director Walter Long told CNN he discovered the damage from two large stones and a mausoleum door. “People spend a lot of money on these markers and stuff. They’re not cheap,” he said.

Established in 1846, Cedar Grove Cemetery is the resting place of many Confederate Civil War veterans, according to the city’s website. Lebanon is about 30 miles east of Nashville.