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Cemetery vandalized; $1,000 reward for information
44 headstones overturned, some slabs smashed in DeLoach-Moore Cemetery
Cemetery secondary toned
headstones are shown smashed at DeLoach-Moore Cemetery in north Evans County. Vandals struck the small burial place two weeks ago, toppling heavy headstones onto grave slabs, causing extensive damage to nearly all the graves in the cemetery. Authorities are looking for the vandals, and there is a $1,000 reward for information leading to arrests in the case. - photo by EDDIE LEDBETTER/staff
    The scene Wednesday at DeLoach-Moore Cemetery, a private family cemetery off Caddie Greene Road in Evans County, could be described in one word: devastation.
    Someone, most likely a group of people, trespassed on private land, and for reasons unfathomable to most, wrought havoc on the ancient graves by toppling massive headstones, shattering slabs of marble and granite, and breaking off ornamental pieces. The vandalism occurred about two weeks ago.
    The Evans County Sheriff's Department is actively investigating the incident, and anyone with information is asked to place a confidential call to either Sheriff Randall Tippins, Deputy Jessie Deloach or Deputy Virgil Deloach at (912) 739-1611. There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to arrests, according to Virgil DeLoach.
    The owners of the land where the cemetery is located are appalled. So is a friend of theirs who has distant relatives in the cemetery. There are many families with relatives buried there: DeLoach, Griner, Beasley, Hendrix, Easterling, Moore, Baldwin, and Mock are all family names noted on headstones.
    But, many of those headstones will now have to be replaced. The most recent burial there was in 1958, but there are graves - mostly those of children - marked only with the jagged remains of wooden markers.  A couple are covered in piles of rough stones. The ancient graves with barely a stob to signify that a human being is buried there were the least damaged.
    Out of 51 graves there, only seven were left with markers standing. When the weight headstones were pushed off their stands, they toppled onto slabs, shattering the smooth surface into pieces.
    The caretakers and family members of the people buried in the cemetery are shocked, disturbed and angry. They hope the reward of $1,000 will lead information about the culprits.
    Fearing retaliation, the caretakers and others involved don't wish to be identified. But Evans County Sheriff's Deputy Virgil DeLoach, who has distant relatives buried there, hopes he can find the offenders.
    No evidence at the time leads to suspects, but he also hopes the reward will prompt someone to call with information.
    When he saw the mass vandalism, "it was a horrific thing," he said.
    Bill Clark, with Clark and Shaw Monuments in Lyons, felt the same way when he came to help replace headstones and assess the damage.
    "They did a lot of damage," he said. "I've seen a lot of damage, but this was just total destruction." He said the offenders "had to be on drugs or drunk." One headstone weighed about 2,000 pounds, and he said there has to be more than one offender, although he said he noted a spot where one culprit " dug his heels in the dirt" in efforts to topple a stone.
    According to, citing the Official Code of Georgia Annotated ( O.C.G.A.), GA Code Title 16, Section 16-7-22 states: "A person convicted of the offense of criminal damage to property in the first degree shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years."
    Vandalizing graves is a felony offense, and GA Code Title 31, Section 31-21-44 states: "... It is unlawful for any person wantonly or maliciously to ... disturb the contents of any grave or other place of interment or any vault, tomb, or sepulcher.
    According to O.C.G.A.,  GA Code Title 36, Section 36-72-16 states: "Any person who knowingly fails to comply with provision of the law shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and, upon conviction, shall pay a fine of not more than $5,000.00 for each grave disturbed."
    The cemetery, also known as "New DeLoach Cemetery," was established as part of an old line Primitive Baptist Church that split off from another nearby church. The cemetery includes graves of church members buried before the Civil War, according to the property owners. The church building was destroyed by fire in  the early 1920's, but the cemetery was used until 1958.
     Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 489-9414.

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