WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- A Schofield business has teamed up with law enforcement and the Wausau Cemetery Association after a weekend vandalism spree.
Joe Mueller is General Manager at Fred Mueller Automotive. He says their dealership had thirteen vehicles damaged late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. The vehicles had wiper arm and window damage, and one car had the hood smashed in.
Mueller says the damages at their lot are insignificant compared to the toppled and broken grave monuments at St. Joseph’s Cemetery and Pine Grove Cemetery on Grand Avenue. “Ours is very insignificant compared to what happened. We all feel, here at Fred Mueller Automotive, that when something happens like that to a cemetery, those are people’s last memories of their loved ones, and some of these gravestones here date back very, very far.”
Two employees suggested Mueller get involved, and he agreed by offering a reward and a donation. “A one-thousand dollar reward for the tip that leads to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible, and then also in total, a one-thousand dollar donation to the cemeteries so they can help with their efforts in fixing their damage as well.”
Patty Grimm is with the Wausau Cemetery Association. She says dozens of monuments have been damaged. She says they are getting many phone calls from upset people. “They’re just talking about how angry they are. They’re talking about their own personal feelings of what it’s like to come to the cemetery and what they’re seeing when they come to the cemetery. Everybody wants to talk about it. They’re stopping their cars to shout out to people (working the cemetery) and talk about their disgust, really.”
Grimm says the association has vandalism insurance, but they’re not sure if it will cover everything. The goal is to repair and restore as many of the stones as possible unless the families choose to get a new monument.
Mueller says Wausau and Everest Metro Police are investigating, and have some fingerprints and handprints along with an empty beer bottle and other evidence. They believe the crimes were done by the same people.
Anyone with information about the vandalism at the two cemeteries or the car dealership should contact police or the Marathon County Crimestoppers program at 877-409-8777. You can also submit anonymous tips online or by texting “MCTIP plus your message” to 274637 (CRIMES).