ALPINE, Calif. - A disheartening discovery was made at a cemetery in Alpine after grave markers belonging to veterans and their spouses were hauled away in the middle of the night.
"It was shock, just shock," said Bob Duck, the manager at Alpine Cemetery.
As the cemetery manager walked through the grounds last Friday morning, he discovered a bronze grave marker pried off a cement slab. Nearby, the entire cement slab along with the plaque was missing.
In all, seven markers were stolen. All were marking the graves of veterans or their spouses. A few footprints are the only clues.
An upset Duck told 10News he wanted to deliver a message directly to the thief.
"You took something off a veteran's grave that can't defend himself and he might very well have died defending you. I think that's absolutely appalling," he said.
The veterans' markers belonged to six men and one woman. The dates of their deaths range from 1968 to 1994.
Duck has their names but has not been able to get a hold of family members because the contact numbers are too old.
10News did a public records search for loved ones and tracked down some leads but have yet to receive a call back.
There is plenty of outrage from those who count all veterans as part of their family.
Theo Bazdorf, the chaplain at the VFW post in Alpine, told 10News, "That's the ultimate disrespect for anyone, let alone veterans."
Army veteran John Rizzo added, "I think anyone who would desecrate a veteran's grave is lower than anything you can imagine."
And for what motive? 10News checked and found that selling each marker for scrap would net about $25. It would cost about $500 to replace each marker.
Duck called the VA and says there is a program that would pay for new plaques. While it is good news, the frustration lingers.
"Unbelievable… is there nothing sacred?" said Duck.
He added that extra security is now planned, including cameras. Anyone with any information is asked to call the Alpine sheriff's substation.
The names of the deceased are listed here:
James Stephens, died 1968
John Dirks, died 1980
Charles Skidmore, died 1970
Martha Arnold, died 1986
Hugh Chance, died 1994
William B. Clark, died 1982
Andrew Sexton, died 1969