More than two dozen headstones vandalized at historic Johnson City cemetery

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Johnson City Police are searching for the suspects responsible for vandalizing two dozen headstones at a local historically black cemetery.

Officers say someone targeted West Lawn Cemetery in Johnson City, leaving behind thousands of dollars in damage.

Sergeant Mike Adams with the Johnson City Police Department says around two dozen headstones are vandalized.

“It appears someone went down through there kicking headstones over,” Sgt. Adams said.

Someone discovered the damage on Tuesday, but police aren’t sure when the crime happened.

“Because the headstones were laying on the grass, it hadn’t killed the grass yet. So obviously it had been within the past few days that this has happened,” Sgt. Adams explained.

The community cemetery has been around since the 1800s.

Pastor James Whiteside is the caretaker of the cemetery. He says his grandparents are buried here.

“My question is: Why? Why disturb the dead that are at rest?” Whiteside said.

Investigators don’t have any suspects at this time.

“It seems to be probably juveniles just being destructive. It’s unfortunate that somebody would do that to a cemetery,” Sgt. Adams said.

Right now, it’s unclear exactly how much it will cost to repair the damage.

“Unfortunately several of them were damaged. I would estimate thousands of dollars worth of damage to some of those headstones,” he said.

“We can’t repair all of them, but I think there [are] some that we can stand back up and go forward,” said Whiteside.

Pastor Whiteside says he hopes whoever did this comes forward. But if they don’t, he wanted to leave a message.

“Your sins will find you out and you will reap what you sow. So, with that being said, the Lord knows,” Whiteside said.

If you have any information on this crime, call Johnson City Criminal investigations Division at 423.434.6166.

See also: Multiple headstones vandalized at Johnson City’s historically black cemetery

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