Recent vandalism perpetrated at the Camas Cemetery has tugged at the heart strings of many local residents.
Last Wednesday, it was discovered that approximately 15 headstones, many of them in the southeast “pioneer section” of the cemetery, had been pushed off of their pedestals and onto the ground.
On Thursday, Michael Garwood, 21, of Camas, was arrested on charges relating to the vandalism. He remains in the Clark County Jail on 15 counts of violating laws governing the protection of cemeteries and one count of second degree malicious mischief. The case remains under investigation by the Camas Police Department. Additional arrests are possible.
These actions shocked and saddened many who have come to see the Camas Cemetery as a very special place in the community.
It is a place that residents of Camas, members of the Friends of the Camas Cemetery, and city employees have great pride in. According to Eunice Abrahamsen, of the Friends of the Camas Cemetery, in addition to city workers there are many who contribute to keeping it beautiful, from the official volunteer efforts that go on there — Boy Scouts and church groups preparing the site for Memorial Day, for example — to the walkers who stroll through the site on Oak Street as part of their daily routines and pick up litter.
While mischief at community cemeteries is not unheard of, this level of vandalism is something the Camas Cemetery hasn’t been the target of any time in recent memory.
We are all left to wonder, what was this person thinking when he decided this would be a fun thing to do? What kind of enjoyment could a person possibly get out of desecrating the final resting places of so many people, for no apparent reason whatsoever?
This truth is that, thankfully, this is something few of us really can understand.
While nearly all of the headstones have now been replaced onto their pedestals, one was broken beyond repair. The headstone of Alexander Stuber, who died in 1908, was toppled over and broken into three pieces. With no living relatives who can step forward to pay for the damage, the community of Camas is being asked to help.
Donations to cover the $700 replacement cost are being accepted at Riverview Community Bank. Contributions can be made to the Friends of the Camas Cemetery account.
Police Chief Mitch Lackey summed it up best:
“I’d like to send the strong message that Camas takes care of these things and even though none of us knew Mr. Stuber, we know that he was a part of the community. Who knows what part he might have played in building what we all enjoy today.”