Dozens of headstones damaged in Wyckoff cemetery vandalism

Thursday, October 6, 2016
EMBED <>More Videos

AJ Ross has the story.

WYCKOFF, New Jersey (WABC) -- Police are searching for a suspect or suspects after approximately 50 headstones were toppled in a New Jersey cemetery overnight Sunday into Monday.

It happened in the Wyckoff Reformed Cemetery, located at 580 Wyckoff Avenue.

"They seem to have gone down rows," said Dr. Richard Lynch, VP Cemetery Board.

It's a devastating trail of unexplainable damage on what has been honored as hallowed ground next to The Wyckoff Reformed Church for centuries.

"They either uprooted them, or snapped them off, or just knocked them down," Lynch said.

More than 50 tombstones dating back to the early 1800s were vandalized, with many of the plots belonging to some of the first families and settlers of the small New Jersey town.

"This is a historic place, it's a hallowed place, it's a place to honor those who came before us, I say we stand on their shoulders," Lynch said. "We were just horrified with what we saw, it's just malicious vandalism."

Beyond their historic and sentimental values Dr. Richard Lynch says each tombstone tells a unique story that he and his colleagues have been diligently working to preserve.

"What we've seen here is probably the undoing of everything we've done in the last 15 years, plus a whole lot more so obviously it's just devastating.

Now with many of the stones shattered and split in half and the cost of repairs estimated in the tens of thousands, neighbors in Wyckoff are wrestling with how someone could be so heartless.

"I was shocked because it's a very tight knit community here and just shocked and appalled," said David Harris, a Wyckoff resident.

"The hopeful thing is that there are enough people in this part of the country who are also able to maybe reconstruct some of that," said John Cays, a Wyckoff resident.

So far police have not made any arrests, but Eyewitness News has learned they are reviewing surveillance video from nearby businesses.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Wyckoff Police Detective Bureau at 201-891-2121.