Centuries of Rockford's history are tarnished and broken in a matter of hours. One or more people vandalized grave sites at the city's oldest cemetery.
Greenwood Cemetery, near Auburn and North Main, was founded in 1852. Almost 25,000 people are buried there. Investigators say the crime happened earlier this week in broad daylight.
"It had to happen prior to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, so it just surprises me that somebody didn't see something because I'm guessing it's probably more than one individual." -says Rockford Cemetery Association Board of Trustees President Darryl Johnson.
Johnson says vandals damaged and tipped over about 50 grave sites.
"We're already in the works in trying to get them restored and fixed. We're working through a couple different channels that way. Some of them are going to need a lot of restoration, others, I think it's just going to be a matter of tipping back up and getting them secure again."
Some of Rockford's earliest influential leaders are buried in Greenwood. Plus, the site houses remains from soldiers in every major U.S. military conflict. Johnson is stunned to see a place full of history turn into a target for crime.
"What an unnecessary thing to have happened. So disrespectful, so hurtful, it just makes me ill. I'm hoping somebody knows something and will come forward and give the police the information they need and maybe find out what happened."
Investigators are still looking for suspects. If you have any information, call Rockford police at (815)987-5824 or CrimeStoppers at (815)963-7867.
Earlier we reported...
Multiple headstones at Rockford's old cemetery are in need of repair after an incident of vandalism this week.
According to an employee at Greenwood Cemetery, the vandalism occurred between 4:30 and 9:00 p.m. Wednesday evening and a police report has been filed. Some head stones are tipped over, some broken, and several flower pots are broken as well. A witness described seeing cherubs and other pieces of decor destroyed. One of the headstones tipped over dated back to 1888.
Rockford police say a window at Greenwood's crematory was also broken.
Around 20,000 people are buried at Greenwood, which was established in 1845. It's chapel and crematory are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Anyone with information on the incident is encouraged to call Rockford police at 815-987-5824 or CrimeStoppers at 815-963-7867.
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