Cobb County cemetery damage angers, saddens families

Families who have their loved ones buried at an East Cobb cemetery are picking up the pieces after someone drove through the graveyard, damaging headstones and markers.

The vandalism reported over the weekend at Holly Springs Cemetery includes damage to about six to a dozen headstones, according to two incident reports filed by Cobb County police. Tire tracks were seen in the grass and gravel along the path of the headstones, an incident report said.

Tracy Kinnemore, who has six family members buried at the cemetery at 2799 Holly Springs Road in Marietta, discovered her daughter’s headstone had been damaged while driving on Holly Springs Road last week. She told her husband that something didn’t look right, and she jumped out of the car because “I noticed my daughter’s headstone was … thrown 15 to 20 feet into the woods.”

The headstone of her daughter, Angel Nicole Fabrizi, was broken off and marred with flecks of blue paint likely from the vehicle that struck it.

“There is no possible way that this was an accident,” she said.

Kinnemore said there are questions about who owns the cemetery. The church that used to be on the site has been gone for nearly 10 years. Kinnemore said the United Methodist Church may own the land, but said that has not been confirmed. A search of the Cobb County Tax Assessor’s website returned no listed property owner for the site.

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Helga Hong, a member of the Cobb County Cemetery Preservation Commission, said she filed an incident report with Cobb police to document the damage. Cobb police spokesman Neil Penirelli said the case has been turned over to the property crimes unit, and its detectives are handling the investigation.

Hong told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she believes the cost to repair or replace a headstone could easily top $600, a price tag she said could be too high for some families to shoulder.

Hong said this isn’t the first time the cemetery has been treated with such disrespect. Tires and phone books have been dumped on the property on two separate occasions. Members of the former church had to pay for those items to be removed.

“I just don’t understand the mentality of people destroying this,” she said. “To me, it’s outrageous.”

Kinnemore, who visits her daughter’s grave at the cemetery each week, said she hopes Cobb police can track down the person responsible for the damage and subsequent heartbreak it’s brought to families.

“Not only did I have to bury my child once, [but] now I feel like I’m having to bury her a second time and no parent should have to do that,” she said. “Honestly no one should be allowed to get way with it.”