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Swastikas spray-painted on 150-plus headstones at Glen Carbon cemetery; suspect in custody

Police posted a video clip of the suspect who they say defaced headstones and graves at Glen Carbon cemetery. (Edwardsville Police/Facebook)

Edwardsville police said Saturday they have a suspect in custody in connection with the defacement of headstones and grave markers at Sunset Hill Cemetery.

Details about the 34-year-old man will be released once he is charged, police said in a post on the department’s Facebook page.

Employees at the Glen Carbon cemetery said swastikas were spray-painted on 150 to 200 headstones and markers.

Mark Johnson, grounds superintendent at the nondenominational cemetery at 50 Fountain Drive, said the defaced stones were discovered about 7:15 a.m. Saturday.

Johnson said he believed the timing of the vandalism at the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend wasn’t by chance. He said large numbers of people would be coming to the gravesites to pay their respects to loved ones.

“I think they probably knew what they were doing,” he said of whomever committed the vandalism.

Johnson said he called in two crews to clean the stones and markers. Volunteers also assisted.

A Memorial Day ceremony for the general public is scheduled for noon Monday at the cemetery. More than 1,300 veterans are buried there.

Johnson said this is the first time vandalism of this magnitude has happened at the cemetery.

The vandalism in the nearby subdivision, Sunset Hills Estates, took place between 1:40 a.m. and 2:20 a.m., said Edwardsville police Sgt. Justin Towell.

He said swastikas were painted on the siding of homes and garage doors.

Edwardsville police posted on the department’s Facebook page the image of a man believed to be a suspect in the case.

The image is from a surveillance video from the subdivision.

Towell said that person may also be responsible for the cemetery vandalism.

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© 2018 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.