From the town that brought us the rousing story of Poop Patrol comes a story of desecration, destruction, alcohol driven rage, and a lost middle finger tip. Please read and note any editorial comments in parenthesis.
Cemetery vandal ‘fingered'
By Linda Ober / The CitizenTuesday, May 30, 2006 11:33 AM EDT
FLEMING - Matthew Panarisi's voice broke as he looked at his parents' headstone lying face-up on the grass.
“I feel bad enough to cry,” said Panarisi, who with his wife Nancy, visited St. Joseph's Cemetery in Fleming Monday afternoon, unaware that more than 50 monuments and statues had been vandalized earlier that morning. “Those were the greatest two people on earth.”
Nearby, downed monuments scattered the cemetery landscape. In some rows, several headstones were pushed over. In others, none were touched. (A selective vandal. Tricky.)
One lay with what appeared to be a face-down Jesus statue, an American flag trapped beneath. Another had a planter crushed beneath its massive weight, the potted soil and flowers spilling out onto the grass. (And a killer. That plant will never be the same. Bastards.)
Sheriff's deputies have arrested and charged Adam C. Warner, 26, of 115 Washington St., Auburn, with the felonies of second-degree criminal mischief and first-degree cemetery desecration, as well as the misdemeanor of criminal trespass in the third degree. (He's 26? When do you outgrow the need to vandalize cemetaries? Doesn't that end when you no longer want to tip cows?)
In total, 53 monuments or statues were damaged, according to cemetery administrator Mitchell Fanning.
Fanning said that the sheriff's office awoke him around 5 a.m. Monday to tell him about the vandalism. It appears the perpetrator started toppling stones in one of the cemetery's older sections, he said.
“(He) continued sporadically toppling either statues on the tops of monuments or the monuments themselves,” Fanning said.
The incident occurred between 1 and 2:30 a.m. Monday, according to Cayuga County Sheriff Rob Outhouse. The monuments involved are located in a path from Sand Beach Road on the cemetery's south side northeasterly to Lake Avenue. (At that time perhaps Adam was upset about an ex-girlfriend who wouldn't sleep with him one last time? Perhaps he tried to drunk dial and couldn't get anyone so he thought he would drunk desecrate.)
Sheriff's deputies were first alerted to the incident by the Auburn Police Department and area residents who were dealing with Warner, who had sustained a finger injury whereby he was missing the end of his right middle finger, Outhouse said. (What? That was my first thought at this point. But, gentle reader, continue...)
At that time, there was some indication Warner had been involved with the cemetery incident, and deputies followed a trail of blood leading to a partial finger severed by stone markers crashing together in the cemetery, Outhouse said, noting that Warner “certainly showed signs of intoxication and admittedly had been drinking.” (These guys took a cue from CSI. Follow the blood to the severed fingertip to the bloody dude missing the fingertip. Straight from tv. Thank god it was a fingertip... Thank god he hurt himself or he may have tipped all the markers.)
Warner underwent surgery in Syracuse and will be arraigned in Town of Fleming Court. He is expected to be remanded to the sheriff's custody for further proceedings.
Most of the headstones damaged were pushed off their bases and can be re-erected, Fanning said. There is one very large monument that broke in a few places and will have to be replaced, he said, noting the cemetery could find damage to some other stones when they are picked up.
Cemetery workers will likely start repairing the monuments today, said Fanning, who Monday afternoon was in the process of documenting all of the damage.
The cemetery will make every attempt to notify the family members of those whose gravestones have been damaged, though that may be impossible for those for whom the cemetery only has the names of the deceased, Fanning said. (So the deceased buried themselves?)
“It's a terrible thing to happen any time of year. It's even that much worse on Memorial Day,” said Fanning, noting his gratefulness that a suspect had been apprehended. (Okay. Did some of the markers mark vets?)
Joseph and Ruth Calandro, of Auburn, always visit the grave of Joseph's aunt and uncle on Memorial Day. They were appalled to find the headstone pushed over; the Jesus statue in its center had broken away from the base.
“I think it's sick really,” Ruth said. “I don't know why people do this.” (They are drunk and looking for a good time. Nothing says good time like knocking Jesus off his pedastal.)
Both the Calandros and Panarisis said they had never had any problems with vandalism in the cemetery before. Most vandalism is people stealing flowers from the grave sites Fanning said. (Stealing flowers? What? That is appalling! Does anyone lose a fingertip when stealing flowers? Probably not.)
The desecration comes one month after more than 100 headstones were tipped or damaged at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn. (Any parts found in this crime? I wonder if there's a connection...)
“Something's wrong up here,” said Panarisi, whose sister's headstone was not touched Monday.
St. Joseph's Cemetery opened in 1880. It averages 300 burials per year. (Good God! It's been open since 1880 and averages 300 burials a year? Where the hell are they putting dead people? How large is this cemetary?)
The annual Memorial Day mass was moved to Holy Family Church because of the morning's rain and lightning, not the vandalism, Fanning added. (God's way of saying, don't come to the cemetary until all is well.)
Warner is contending that he acted alone, Outhouse said, but the case is still under investigation and detectives are interested in speaking with anyone with information related to the matter. (No one does this alone. If you are a 26 year old drunk male, you are not desecrating grave markers by yourself anymore than a 26 year old drunk woman is going to the bathroom by herself. Come on.)
I am in no way condoning the desecration of cemetaries. I find cemetaries quite fascinating. I also find them rather peaceful. I think this guy should be punished. Punished beyond losing a fingertip. How do you explain that to co-workers, friends, kids, relatives, etc.?