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Albert Lea cemetery officials 'overwhelmed' after 100-plus gravestones vandalized

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The gravestone of an infant who died in 1886 was damaged. The gravestone of an infant who died in 1886 was damaged.
The light that illuminates the veterans memorial was smashed. The light that illuminates the veterans memorial was smashed.
ALBERT LEA, Minn. (KTTC) - -

More than 100 gravestones at Graceland Cemetery in Albert Lea were toppled or smashed over the weekend, making it the largest act of vandalism that cemetery officials can remember.

Cemetery Administrator Alan Christensen said 102 gravestones were damaged, with several dating back to the 1880s. He believes the vandalism happened Sunday night. He became aware Monday morning after a woman visiting the cemetery noticed damage and called him.

"Really became overwhelmed with just the quantity of stones that were destroyed and tipped over and broken," said Christensen.

Christensen pointed out a small statue of a lamb -- a gravestone of an infant who died in 1886 -- that suffered numerous cracks at the hands of the vandals.

"One of the ones, I think that's really sad out here is, we got this marker for an infant who was buried and they went to the trouble of attacking this monument for this infant as well," Christensen said. "They went to the trouble of even smashing some of the pots that are there, which wouldn't you know it, it's in a baby section."

In addition to the gravestones, the light that illuminates the cemetery's veterans memorial was smashed to pieces.

"That's close to Veterans Day when we were honoring our veterans for their service. And to have somebody come in and completely dishonor our veterans is just really overwhelming and still makes it hard to even talk about," said Christensen.

Christensen said two baseball bats were left at the veterans memorial. He believes they were used by the vandals.

The Albert Lea Police Department is investigating. But so far, no arrest has been made.  

"Just by the sheer size of some of the stones, it had to be people with a little more strength than young kids," said Christensen

Christensen is urging the public to keep their eyes open, and to report tips to police.

The cost of the damage exceeds $14,000, according to early estimates. Those interested in donating can send contributions to :

Graceland Cemetery
PO Box 33
Albert Lea, MN 56007

Christensen said this was the third time the cemetery was vandalized this year. But the previous incidents were much smaller.

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