A six-foot-tall obelisk bearing the names of Chester and Jennie Stowver lies in pieces on June 22 after it was allegedly struck by a vehicle.

Someone damaged a large monument in West Harpswell Cemetery earlier this week when they struck it with their vehicle and fled the scene, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department.

Members of the West Harpswell Cemetery Improvement Association, which maintains the gravesite, said they discovered the damage on Tuesday. A 6-foot-tall granite obelisk memorializing Chester and Jennie Stowver, both born in 1876, now lies in several pieces on the ground.

“It makes it feel like you were violated,” said Jim Knight, the organization’s treasurer. “I think goes with the times we live in, where there’s a general lack of respect for things of this nature.”

Police have not identified a suspect, according to Sgt. Joseph Dyer of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department. A body shop is analyzing parts of the vehicle left behind at the scene in order to identify its make and model.

Besides damaging the Stowver monument, which Knight estimated weighs over 1,000 pounds, the culprit appears to have knocked over one or two smaller stones and torn up the earth around four other graves in a separate section of the cemetery, Knight said.

Police have not estimated the cost of the damage, and they still aren’t sure whether the act was intentional.

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Nelson Moody (left) and Jim Knight (right), observe more damage caused by an unknown suspect.

Vandalism is unusual in the West Harpswell Cemetery, said association President Patrick Moody. Usually, the volunteer group worries only about controlling the grubs and turkeys that sometimes damage the grass.

The group, which exists on donations and a small amount public funding, will rely on unpaid labor to repair the damage, he said.

“We’re going to have to volunteer our time and our equipment to put this back together,” Moody said, gazing over the cemetery he calls “a sacred place.”

“This is terrible,” he added.


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