Vandals damage several Grantsville City Cemetery headstones

Feb 16, 2024, 7:59 AM | Updated: 10:39 am

GRANTSVILLE — Residents are upset, hurt and wondering who vandalized several historic headstones in the city cemetery.

Police have now jumped on the case, as the city assesses if the family gravesites can be restored.

On Thursday, Susan Orifici and her mother, Madge Hogan, came by to visit the gravesite of Orifici’s late father and Hogan’s late husband, Dean Hogan.

Walking up to his headstone in the Grantsville City Cemetery can bring out a lot of emotions. But on this day, the mom and daughter said they felt peaceful.

Orifici’s grandbaby is buried right next to him, and her late sister’s gravesite is also nearby.

“We feel our loved ones, you know, and, this is people’s hearts,” she said, looking down at the headstones.

But as the two looked up and around, they noticed something wrong with some of the other gravesites.

Sandstone headstones, a tribute to those who came before, had toppled over. Some were broken.

“It looks like someone with a lot of force come up and ran and pushed it over, or possibly hit it with a vehicle,” Orifici said, of one of the headstones that her mother discovered shattered into several pieces in the grass.

Susan Orifici stands over a broken headstone dating back to the late 1800s. (KSL TV)

As they walked up to each broken headstone, they discovered another, and then another.

“This was no accident,” Orifici said. “This was definitely vandalism.”

She immediately reported it to the city, and police opened an investigation.

Orifici runs a business cleaning and restoring headstones and knows many of the families whose loved ones are buried in the cemetery, like John Cook.

He and others began to arrive Thursday evening to see the damage.

“This was not broken like this before,” Orifici said, walking with Cook up to a headstone that was snapped in half dating back to the late 1800s. “This wasn’t broken.”

Cook could see that his family headstones were fine.

But he was not.

“It just breaks my heart, because I’m 80 years old and I’ve got a wife that’s buried here,” he said. “And if they’d ever mess with my wife’s headstone, I know I’d go crazy.”

John Cook looks at a broken headstone with Susan Orifici, while other broken headstones can be seen in the background. (KSL TV)

He and others wandered and wondered who would vandalize so many historic treasures, and why.

“These headstones are like hundreds of years old, and, you know, they’re irreplaceable,” Orifici said.

By the end of the evening, Orifici estimated that they pointed out about a dozen vandalized gravesites.

With headstones and hearts broken, they hoped to find who took all this family history away.

“If I was you, I would apologize to these families,” she said. “I would come forth and try to make things right because this is just not acceptable.”

Grantsville Mayor Neil Critchlow told KSL TV that the city is going to keep cataloging which headstones were damaged and will remove them in hopes that some of them can be restored.

Orifici has offered her business, Precious Stones Monuments and Restoration, to work on what’s now become a restoration project.

Critchlow also said police are investigating and will be patrolling the cemetery regularly.

Anyone with information on the vandalism should call Grantsville police at 435-884-6881.

Headstones sit damaged in the Grantsville City Cemetery (KSL TV)

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Vandals damage several Grantsville City Cemetery headstones