Vandals Strike at Historic Oskaloosa Cemetery

OSKALOOSA, Iowa -- Forest Cemetery is usually a pretty peaceful place. It’s quiet and very serene. But over the last few weeks it’s been anything but that.

“Disturbing. Disgusting. Disturbing and kind of heart breaking,” said Gordon Anderson, Forest Cemetery board member.

A spree of vandalism has hit the cemetery. Headstones have been broken. Flowers have been stolen and even fish farmed from the ponds.

“It’s getting pretty bad,” said Mark Walker, grounds manager at Forest Cemetery.

But that’s not even the worst of it.

“It feels like an epoxy. It was real hard, so we took it to the vet. The breathing was hard and the nostrils were covered with it,” said Walker.   

The unknown vandals attacked their famous swans.  First they duct-taped a beak shut. Then they decided to glue one shut. Luckily the birds survived the attack.  That couldn’t be said for a third bird that had its neck broken last year.

The damages have added up to $30,000 and climbing. The police department is light on leads and no arrests have been made. But the local community is stepping up to solve the problem.

“I have family that’s buried out there. The more I learned about everything that has happened over the past few years it really bothered me,” said Kelli Steil, local business owner in Oskaloosa.  

Kelli is one of several business owners partnering to help the cemetery buy a new camera system to deter this from happening again.

The cost is steep, around $70,000, for equipment and installation. It won’t be finished for a couple weeks but the crew hopes they are done with cleaning up.

“Get a life. Think about the things you’ve done to swans. There is no room for that in Oskaloosa,” said Anderson.

Police are looking for your help in this case, if you have any information about who did this contact the Oskaloosa Police Department.

The Forest Cemetery is still short of their $70,000 goal to install the new cameras. If you would like to donate you are encouraged to send any offerings to 634 North 9th St, Oskaloosa, Iowa.