Norfolk police make second arrest in cemetery vandalism


by Brian Farrell, 13 News

Posted on September 20, 2012 at 7:46 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 21 at 10:17 AM

NORFOLK -- Police have made a second arrest in the vandalizm of a Norfolk cemetery.

Police say 54-year-old Anthony G. Flora and 50-year-old Raymond D. Whited took about 500 pounds of property was reported stolen by the Norfolk Bureau of Cemeteries earlier this month.  The items included about a dozen bronze vases. 

Police located the stolen bronze at L. Chenman Inc., a scrap dealer at 629 W. 24th Street that bought the items.

L. Chenman, Inc. paid the thieves $1000 for the bronze, city officials said. Everything was there except for 20 feet of bronze piping which Chenman was allowed to keep since he told them that it was “no longer in pipe form and could not be used to put the fence back together," stated Bobette Nelson with the Bureau of Cemeteries.

Some of the items were broken into pieces but most were intact and were returned to Elmwood Cemetery.  

Nelson said the cemetery would not be putting the items back out at the mausoleum for fear that they would be stolen again.  The items will be kept somewhere safe until family members can be notified. 

The mausoleum  was the burial place of John LeKies who died in 1890, and his wife, Emma, who died in 1914. The French immigrants did much for people in Norfolk, especially veterans.

"It's heartbreaking to me, you know. This is sacred ground. This is hallowed ground, and when you have vandals come through here and damage and create havoc, it's difficult to take," said Ted Dudley, Bureau Manager of Cemeteries for the City of Norfolk.

Dudley told 13News groundskeepers at Elmwood Cemetery on East Princess Anne Road noticed a problem at the Le Kies Mausoleum Thursday. Someone stole solid bronze connector railing and vases from outside the building. They also ripped off a decorative bronze vent cover.

"This is a Gothic Revival mausoleum, and they're pretty rare. We don't have any others in any of our 8 municipal cemeteries," explained Bobette Nelson who works on conservation and preservation of the Norfolk-owned cemeteries.

Nelson added the bronze work was done by renowned artist William Cooper whose work can be found across the country.

"What they may not realize, and what we want the community to realize, is that this is part of our culture. It's part of our heritage," said Nelson. "Architecturally, artistically, our cemeteries have so much to offer, and when this is done, which, essentially, is desecration, then, it's a tragedy."

The men are each charged with Grand Larceny, Destruction of Monument with the Intent to Steal Property, and Conspiracy to Commit Grand Larceny.