Culprit in Gravestone Defacing Incident Comes Forward

More than 160 historic gravestones, dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, in the All Hallows Episcopal Church Cemetery in Davidsonville, Maryland, were defaced after being partially scoured with a brush and an unknown chemical.

The abrasive “cleaning” of the monuments was done without the knowledge or permission of the All Hallows Episcopal Church, which is located nearby. Gravestones at the Davidsonville United Methodist Church in the same vicinity were also marred.

Woman Admits Involvement

One of the alleged culprits, who claims to be a amateur genealogist and volunteer, did come forward after the vandalism was reported to police and it was discovered that photos of the defaced headstones were being posted online.

According to local media reports, the yet to be identified woman met with Rev. Fr. Jeff Hual of the All Hallows Parish and cemetery committee members. Following the meeting, they told reporters the woman “was truly contrite about what happened” and did not realize what she was doing was harmful.

Extent of the Vandalism and Damages

Photo credit: Redit

The vandals scrubbed only portions of the headstones clean so they could read, record and photograph the engraved names and dates. The defacing left bright white stripes across the weathered, mossy monuments in what has been described as a zebra-looking pattern.

Not only unsightly, the brush scrubbing process may have caused physical damage to the fragile monuments, which due to their age and stone material easily disintegrate.

The church and cemetery committee are now left with the daunting task of properly cleaning all of the damaged headstones so they are restored to the same color. The estimated repair cost is $10,000.

Cleaning and Caring for Headstones Best Practices: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, March 2020

Gettysburg National Cemetery

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