Update: Woman finally getting answers after graves in historic cemetery badly damaged
Update: A Baton Rouge woman is finally getting answers regarding damages to her family's graves at the historic Magnolia Cemetery. According to BREC officials, the cemetery was damaged a few months ago after a driver crashed into the fence.
"They said that there was an accident in January that the damage to our plot resulted from. They are looking into fixing the damage, and so we are just waiting for that to happen," Peggy Wiltz told WBRZ.
BREC says the fence is damaged in two different locations and will cost about $10,000 to repair.
BATON ROUGE - For a Baton Rouge woman, a visit to her family's burial site quickly turned into a nightmare when she noticed significant damage to not only her family's plot, but also to several others.
With moved headstones, a mangled fence, and seriously damaged graves, Peggy Wiltz said her recent stop at the Magnolia Cemetery downtown was concerning.
"I'm thinking 'oh goodness' how much is this going to cost me to get this fixed, and there's no way to lift it yourself. So it's going to take a lot to get this back in shape," said Wiltz.
The cemetery is public property, and it has been on the national register for historic sites for more than 30 years, which Wiltz thought meant it would be protected from vandalism.
She said, "The battle of Baton Rouge, which was a Civil War battle, was fought here. These monuments should not be messed with and it just needs to be fixed."
Although there are tire marks and city officials are aware that the gate had been damaged recently, there is not much that can be done to charge someone with the damage.
Sergeant L'Jean McKneely with the Baton Rouge Police Department said, "It's a history site, but if we don't see that there is an intent to deprive, then that wouldn't be a crime."
The law says desecration of graves is illegal if it was intentional, so unless more information of how it was damaged is presented not many charges would apply to the damaging of the 166 year old cemetery.
"If someone had an accident and caused them to run up in the cemetery itself, that's more civil than criminal," said McKneely. "The only way that it'd be criminal is they left the scene and didn't contact police."
For Peggy Wiltz, she said she will not be satisfied until the graves are fixed.
"What they needed is for someone to report to them when things like this are done. So I'm reporting it and I'm very upset that this has happened to our plot," she said. "My great grandfather bought this in 1894," she continued.