Amber Nickerson of Lisbon scrubs profanity spray-painted on a marble altar at St. Anne’s Cemetery on St. Anne Street in Lisbon. As many as eight stones were vandalized over the weekend. Pauline Baumer of Lisbon, who has family buried in the cemetery, stands in the background.

LISBON — Vandals defaced several gravestones at St. Anne’s Cemetery over the weekend.

As many as three stones were spray-painted with profanity. The large marble altar at the hilltop was also tagged. A lewd image was painted on another nearby stone marking the final resting place of a couple who died in the 1920s. Two other stones were knocked over, including one that marks the grave of a clergy member who died in 1938.

Police were notified of the vandalism at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Officers found two stones knocked over and another six sprayed with black and green paint.

News of the vandalism was posted on a Lisbon community page on social media Monday morning.

Amber Nickerson lives in Lisbon Falls and works at Angelo’s Pizzeria of Lisbon on Route 196 around the corner from the cemetery. She takes her lunch breaks at the cemetery. She doesn’t have family buried there, but stopped by with some stone cleaner and tried to remove the graffiti from the marble stone with a rag.

“I walk all over this town and I take pride in living here,” she said. “People just think it’s crappy. Why would you do that somewhere where somebody was buried?”

Police don’t yet have any suspects. Chief Marc Hagan said it is too early to know if one or more people are behind the vandalism. Officers have been checking in with neighbors to see if they saw anyone in the area.

Hagan said he expects the person or people behind the vandalism will face a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. The severity of the penalty depends on the cost of the damage. Police do not yet have a damage estimate.

Pauline Baumer has grandparents, parents and a brother buried in the cemetery along with uncles and aunts. Her family’s markers were spared, but the vandalism is still jarring, she said.

“I was appalled that somebody has nothing better to do than to come over and vandalize gravestones,” she said.

“It does make you angry,” she said. “Even the dead can’t be at peace. And I feel bad for the loved ones. They come here and then they see something like that. It’s a slap in the face to them, I think. Very sad.”

“This is sacrilege in a way to do this kind of thing,” said Phyllis Bickford of Lisbon Falls, who also has family buried at the cemetery. “Look at how old it is and how memorialized it still is. Look at the flowers. It’s so taken care of.”

According to Earl Williams with the Lisbon Historical Society, burials at the cemetery started in 1874 by St. Anne’s Church and were taken over by the Holy Trinity Church in 2000 with the consolidation of three churches in town. Williams estimated there are about 850 people buried in the cemetery.

Employees with the Diocesan Construction Co. will be at the cemetery cleaning up, according to Dave Guthro, the communications director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

Hagan urged anyone with information about the vandalism or who saw anything suspicious in the area of the cemetery to call the Police Department at (207) 353-2500.

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