LIVERMORE FALLS, Maine — While authorities continued their investigation Monday night into vandalism at Pleasant View Cemetery, residents began the painful process of picking up the pieces of loved ones’ headstones, flowers, flags and memorials.
“Honestly, I thank God they didn’t touch my son’s grave,” said Erica Poland, 30, of Livermore, whose infant son is buried at the cemetery. “But my heart goes out to any family who had to pull into that cemetery and see their loved one’s graves pushed over.”
Poland was one of about 10 volunteers helping to clean up at the Livermore Falls cemetery off Route 17. She said dozens of headstones and gravesites were vandalized sometime early Monday morning. The vandalism was reported to the Livermore Falls Police Department at 5:03 a.m. Monday, according to a dispatcher with the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office.
Poland said a good friend of hers noticed the damage while driving through the cemetery Monday morning. She said police told her they patrolled the cemetery about 1:30 a.m. Monday and saw no damage, so she believes vandals struck between then and 5 a.m.
A dispatcher with Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office said a tracking dog from the department was called in to assist at the scene Monday morning.
“It’s a loss to society. You know? It’s a permanent record of somebody’s life,” Marilyn Burgess of Leeds said. “Especially if you smash the stone so no one can read it.”
Burgess serves as the legislative liaison for the Maine Old Cemetery Association. She intended to head out to the Livermore Falls cemetery Tuesday to survey the damage and take pictures for the association.
According to Poland, Monday’s vandalism wasn’t the first to occur recently at the cemetery. She said the grave of her friend’s daughter, who died earlier this month, had already been vandalized once before.
Poland said vandals knocked over headstones, ripped the flags off military graves, broke dozens of solar lights, and trashed trinkets and memorials at several grave sites.
“Honestly, it looked like a tornado went through the cemetery,” Poland said. “My heart is just breaking for all those people right now.”