By Rob Bradfield
Over the weekend, vandals in Oakwood Cemetery caused up to $200,000 worth of damage to historic graves. The defaced monuments included those of former Texas Gov. Richard Coke and Madison Cooper, author of the best-selling novel “Sironia, Texas.” According to police, the damage was done between 9 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday.
“We think it was more than one suspect because of the amount of damage and the weight of the objects damaged,” Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton of the Waco Police Department said.
The grave of Coke is a pillar topped by a statue of the governor in life. On either side were busts of the governor’s sons, both of whom died relatively young.
Monday morning the busts still lay on the ground, their faces broken. A statue of St. Francis lay nearby, and back across the lawns to the gate were a scattering of cracked and broken headstones.
“The citizenry is angered,” Swanton said, commenting on the community reaction on the Waco PD website. “It’s a sacred place and things like that aren’t supposed to happen there.”
David Evans, superintendent and executive secretary of the Oakwood Cemetery Association, said the vandalism was restricted to the older portion of the cemetery and some of the graves were more than 100 years old.
“The ones that can be repaired will be repaired and we have already started working on those,” Evans said.
Evans also said specialists in historical restoration have been contacted to work on the more difficult monuments.
Oakwood Cemetery will also be stepping up security to prevent future vandalism.
“We’ve discussed all kinds of things like adding more cameras and things like that,” Evans said.
Waco PD has not arrested anyone in connection with the vandalism but is actively pursuing leads. Any citizens with information are encouraged to contact the Waco police department and may do so anonymously.