Reward for cemetery vandalism rises to $74K

As the re­ward for in­form­a­tion about the Mount Car­mel Cemetery grave­stone van­dal­ism has in­creased to $74,000, new in­form­a­tion re­por­ted to po­lice in­dic­ates that much of the dam­age may have been caused days or weeks earli­er than ori­gin­ally sus­pec­ted. Ac­cord­ing to mul­tiple news re­ports, the su­per­in­tend­ent of Laurel Hill cemetery in North Phil­adelphia’s Swam­poodle sec­tion told po­lice de­tect­ives last week that he saw many over­turned grave­stones at Mount Car­mel on Feb. 21, five days be­fore the dam­age was first re­por­ted to au­thor­it­ies.

Bill Dor­an, who has worked at Laurel Hill for more than 30 years, as­sumed that the dam­age at Mount Car­mel had already been re­por­ted, so he didn’t con­tact po­lice or the cemetery’s man­age­ment. On Feb. 26, an­oth­er vis­it­or to Mount Car­mel ob­served more than 100 over­turned grave­stones and con­tac­ted au­thor­it­ies. As word spread pub­licly about the dam­age, lead­ers of the Jew­ish com­munity and elec­ted of­fi­cials ex­pressed con­cerns that the van­dal­ism was mo­tiv­ated by anti-semit­ism. Mount Car­mel, at 5701 Frank­ford Ave., in Wissi­nom­ing, is a Jew­ish buri­al ground.

Dor­an had gone there to view a par­tic­u­lar grave­stone that one of his cli­ents wished to rep­lic­ate for a grave at Laurel Hill.

“(The over­turned stones) didn’t raise any red flags, be­cause when I got there, the gate was un­locked and open, so I as­sumed the people that run it knew about it and didn’t want pub­li­city,” Dor­an told the Phil­adelphia In­quirer.

Dor­an told CB­SPhilly that he saw what ap­peared to be new­er and older van­dal­ism. He also saw ex­tens­ive lit­ter and rem­nants of large drink­ing parties.

As news of the van­dal­ism reached in­ter­na­tion­al audi­ences and evoked com­ments from Pres­id­ent Trump in his ad­dress to a joint ses­sion of Con­gress, dozens of vo­lun­teers — in­clud­ing many from the re­gion’s build­ing trades uni­ons — gathered at the cemetery to as­sess the dam­age and clean up the grounds. Loc­al 98 of the In­ter­na­tion­al Broth­er­hood of Elec­tric­al Work­ers has pledged to in­stall se­cur­ity equip­ment in the cemetery. Po­lice said ini­tially that more than 100 stones had been over­turned. Jew­ish com­munity lead­ers cited fig­ures of sev­er­al hun­dred. Donors in­clud­ing the Anti-De­fam­a­tion League, the Fraternal Or­der of Po­lice, Coun­cil­man Al­lan Domb, May­or Ken­ney’s of­fice, the 15th Po­lice Dis­trict Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil and fam­il­ies from Miami and Las Ve­gas have con­trib­uted to the $74,000 re­ward for in­form­a­tion lead­ing to the ar­rest and con­vic­tion of those re­spons­ible. An­onym­ous donors have con­trib­uted at least $15,000.

Call 215-686-3153 or 215-686-TIPS to re­port in­form­a­tion about the case. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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