[UPDATE] LCSO: Vandals Set Fire in Cemetery - SLIDE SHOW

By: Eyewitness News, Julie Montanaro Email
By: Eyewitness News, Julie Montanaro Email

UPDATED 9.21.2011 by Julie Montanaro

Vandals struck at a Tallahassee cemetery this morning, toppling headstones and starting a fire that spread through the dry grass.

The ground was charred and still smoking when we got there.
Fire spread along the fence line and among the graves here at Serenity Cemetery Wednesday morning.

It's what locals call a "pauper" cemetery ... a graveyard for those without any family to claim them or more likely, money to bury them.

"Sometimes people ask me about the little red gate that's over there and whenever I tell them it's a cemetery for homeless people and people who can't afford to have a decent burial, they're always so suprised. I mean, if you didn't walk back there, you don't even know it's there," said Brittany Dugie who works across the street.

The county run cemetery is tucked among the trees near Capital Circle and Munson Landing Road. There are 476 people buried here. A few of the more recent graves have names, but most just have numbers.

Vandals toppled some of the headstones and pulled others out of the ground. A charred beer can sits nearby. Firefighters have no way of knowing whether this fire started accidentally or if it was set on purpose.

"I mean, it's terrible someone would even do this. There's homeless people around here so I figured it was a campfire, but for some of the actual stones to be vandalized and things of that nature, it had to be something more," Dugie said.

A Leon County spokesman says 10-20 people a year are buried in the indigent cemetery. He says says both flowers and visitors are a rarity.

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[UPDATE] Leon County, Florida - September 21, 2011 - Noon -

Vandals struck a Leon County cemetery this morning and started a brush fire as well.

The cemetery is tucked in the woods off Crawfordville Highway. It's a burial ground for folks who have never been claimed by their next of kin or couldn't afford a proper burial elsewhere.

Each of the graves is marked with a simple concrete slab with a number on it. This morning, firefighters rushed to the scene around 9:30am. At noon, the ground is still charred and smoking. Several headstones have been disturbed.

There's not a lot of damage as the fire didn't spread beyond a corner of the cemetery and firefighters aren't sure if it was an accident or if it was intentional.

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Leon County, Florida - September 21, 2011 - 10am

Tallahassee firefighters and Leon County Sheriff deputies are on the scene at a cemetery off Crawfordville Road in Leon County. LCSO says someone set a fire in the cemetery and may have vandalized graves.

The cemetery is at the intersection of Crawfordville and Munson and is a burial ground for folks who cannot afford a proper burial or have no next of kin.

No other information has been released.

Stay with Eyewitness News for more details.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by sunnybeaches on Sep 21, 2011 at 08:46 PM
    Maybe the county could use just a few thousand dollars to to clean up this cemetary since so people know it is actually a cemetary. Make it look presentable for those with a family member buried there who might just want to visit one day!
  • by Dana on Sep 21, 2011 at 01:32 PM
    There should be a special place in he'll for those thatbdesecrate the final resting place of the deceased.
  • by OlSage Location: Thom'ville on Sep 21, 2011 at 10:44 AM
    I hope the hex and voodoo masks those who disturbed the dead, the marker locales. The Grim Reaper is now in YOUR shadow home boyz, be afraid,,be very afraid. The days of you mama yelping, he only be playin atre OVER!
  • by Kate Location: Tallahassee on Sep 21, 2011 at 09:51 AM
    Even if somebody wanted to buy that piece of land, wouldn't it have been much easier to make the county an offer, and then move the graves? It's a disgraceful, cowardly act of vandalism, desecrating a graveyard.
  • by SCARY on Sep 21, 2011 at 09:19 AM
    They obviously don't watch many horror movies about digging up and disturbing the dead. Come to them what may. On a serious note, that is just cruel and they should be punished once they are found.
  • by SSss Location: Tally on Sep 21, 2011 at 09:06 AM
    I hope those Sunnyland folks buried there come to you in your dreams and haunt you. Be ashamed, Messing with their graves.
  • by B Location: Tally on Sep 21, 2011 at 08:38 AM
    Hmmm, sounds a bit callus.... the fact is its a cemetery. you dont deface a graveyard. Even if you want to buy a property. destruction of hallowed ground sure isnt the way to do it
    • reply
      by John on Sep 21, 2011 at 09:36 AM in reply to B
      That's a dead giveaway!!
  • by panhandlesue Location: Wakulla on Sep 21, 2011 at 08:20 AM
    It's easier to victimize the dead than the elderly. Only animals scavenge the dead?
  • by hmmm on Sep 21, 2011 at 07:35 AM
    Sounds like somebody want to buy that land.
    • reply
      by Huh ? on Sep 21, 2011 at 12:02 PM in reply to hmmm
      The headline says vandalism, the article says they don't know what caused the fire. Go away folks, nothing to see here.
      • reply
        by Tressa on Sep 21, 2011 at 03:13 PM in reply to Huh ?
        The graves were vandalized. That's not okay. The fire is questionable.
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