Thieves break into graves at May Pen Cemetery
Members of the Mt Carmel Ebenezer Courts of Praise Ministry were left chanting the blood of Jesus against hoodlums who yesterday smashed open the tomb of one of their church sisters in an attempt to steal its valuables at the May Pen Cemetery.
May Brown Patterson, born on April 10, 1935, was laid to rest last Sunday. But little over a week after relatives closed her coffin, it was found outside its tomb, which was smashed open, about 7:45 yesterday morning, the police said. The hoodlums tried to open another grave but were unsuccessful.
"This is total slackness! This woman was a senior in our church. Her family and everybody came down and buried her last Sunday, and now we come see the woman grave look like this. This grave was well tiled ... look at it now. Why would someone do that?" lamented Nadine Powell, who, along with church sister, Sophia Miller, looked on as cemetery labourers used blocks to repair the broken end of the tomb.
"It was her wish to be buried here; her mother is here, her father, brothers and sisters are here, and she asked to be buried here. We don't expect to come and see the woman's casket outside on the ground in this manner. This was a woman of God," continued Powell, condemning the perpetrators to hell.
Powell said one of Patterson's daughters left the island about 3 o'clock yesterday morning after visiting for the funeral. "She not even reach home yet (Brooklyn), and now she must hear that them mash up har mother grave."
Miller, in the meantime, criticised the authorities for the shabby state of the cemetery and its lack of perimeter fencing. "We need to talk to the mayor about this because you can't have a cemetery like this and there is no fencing on it. This is why these things happen."
Onlookers said that one perpetrator fled after gunmen from nearby communities along Spanish Town Road realised what was happening and started firing at him. The man ran into bushes, they claimed. Police, however, could not confirm reports that shots had been fired.
Instead, an inspector from the Kingston Western Division told The Gleaner that a passer-by saw a man disturbing the grave and then called the cops. By the time the police responded, the man had already fled. The inspector noted, however, that the Criminal Investigation Branch had already started investigating the incident.
Yesterday, John Cornwall, superintendent of cemeteries at the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), said it was not clear what the hoodlums were after.
"Usually, we see these things happening at the older graves where they (perpetrators) break open the caskets in search for gold for the cash for gold. But I am not sure why they did this today, because this is one of the newer ones. Maybe they wanted the casket," said Cornwall. "I am so embarrassed about this thing right now. Trust me."
Cornwall declined to speak about the need for a perimeter fence, directing the news team to the KSAC for an official comment on that issue.
Representatives from the Ministry of Health were also on site to ensure that there were no health issues arising from the incident.
"The casket was not opened, so thus far it doesn't seem there is any real health concerns. We are just here to ensure that it is closed before we leave," said a male representative.