Families fill cemetery following rampant vandalism

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LAWTON, Okla.- Sacred ground desecrated after dozens of monuments are toppled and tarnished at a city run cemetery.

Officials believe vandals targeted Highland Cemetery some time over the weekend.

Families have since filled Highland, in hopes that their loved ones graves were spared.

Longtime resident George Roberts didn't pick Lawton. The city chose him, along with his long time wife Darlene.

"I found love after I came to Lawton," he explained. "I was 17, she was 14 when we got married."

He now must visit Darlene at Highland Cemetery, along with a son taken too soon.

But Wednesday's visit wasn't routine.

"I was coming out to check on my family`s tombstones," said Roberts.

Roberts was one of the lucky ones, as his family markers remained upright.

City officials estimate at least 97 others were damaged.

"My mom told me to come out here, and make sure our stones are still up," said Ron Mullen.

"I wanted to go check and see if my brother`s resting place was damaged or not," said Elizabeth Glenn.

The crime is now a calling for locally owned Gragg Monument Company to act, with two men hard at work Wednesday, fixing monuments at no cost to families.

"We will fix all of them we can, free of charge," explained an employee.

Despite their efforts though, dozens of markers are left laying on the ground.

Behind each of these, a story, a family, a name etched in stone.

It's a tradition George hopes, stays sacred.

"That other (marker) is for me, when I decide to go," he said. "It`d have to be a pretty sorry person to come in, and destroy monuments and things."

City officials say they're not yet sure how much the repairs might cost, or when they'll be completed.

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