City to begin repairing graves vandalized in Old Colorado City cemetery; suspects remain at large

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A heinous crime has left several families reeling.

Gravestones vandalized in Colorado Springs. Picture taken June 15, 2019.

"Anyone in their right mind who has any decency would never desecrate a burial site," said Peter Martinez while visiting old Colorado City's Fairview Cemetery Sunday.

At least eight headstones in the cemetery were targeted by vandals.

"It's a mixture of anger and sadness," said Keith LaMee, whose cousin's headstone was spray-painted. "Anger that they did it and sad that they did it as well."

Vandals covered the stones with red paint and satanic symbols. The damage to some of the stones is so severe, families think some of them will never be able to be restored.

"I think the damage is done. It is always going to have a red hue to it," Brian Ziegler said.

Ziegler made the unfortunate discovery Saturday when taking his 80-year-old mother to visit his father's grave.

"I felt so badly, because I would have never brought her out here if I had known this had happened. She was pretty quiet. She just stood there and just put her hand on the gravestone," he told 11 News.

The timing couldn't have been worse: Ziegler discovered the damage to his father's grave one day before Father's Day.

"My dad has been gone for three and a half years and we always come out on Father’s Day just to pay our respect. It was definitely a blow to the stomach."

A security guard later told Ziegler that the graves were tagged a couple of weeks ago.

11 News first reported on the vandalism Saturday after Ziegler contacted the newsroom. LaMee said he learned about the incident online and went out Sunday to check on his cousin's grave.

"His mother just went into hospice two months ago for Alzheimer’s. So I get to break the news to his -- my uncle ... that this happened. ... Nobody wants to get that kind of news that something you specifically picked out to honor your son is now desecrated."

The cemetery's supervisor told 11 News reporter Spencer Wilson that the affected families should not try to fix the damage themselves.

"I would rather have someone who knows what they are doing taking care of this instead of some random person," Jody Sanchez-Skamarak said. "Even though they think they are doing a good thing, they could be ruining the stones. ... People will use different chemicals, and it could stain the stone. ... Even though they have a good heart and are trying to do something about it, they are not the experts. We need to leave it to someone who knows what they are doing.”

Restoration work is expected to begin Tuesday and could take until the end of the week.

In the meantime, victims hope to find out who committed the distasteful act.

Ziegler has filed a police report and suggests the other victims do so as well.

If you know who is responsible for the graffiti, you are asked to call Colorado Springs Police at 719-444-7000 or Crime Stoppers at 719-634-STOP. Crime Stoppers tips can be made anonymously.

We have a photo of each headstone that was vandalized in a slideshow below, in order to help identify who will need help. View below: