The Effingham County Sheriff's Office is calling it vandalism, and they're trying to find out why a logging company plowed through a historic cemetery--tearing out trees and knocking over gravestones.
Many of the gravestones at Griffin Cemetery are quite old--and they're showing their age--but the damage that's been done to them really can't be repaired.
Some of these gravestones date back to the 1800s. They've lasted through wars and natural disasters...but not a logging company.
Effingham County detective Tim Holland told us, "You have a final resting place for people, and a desecration like this is just pretty bad."
The Effingham County Sheriff's Office says a logging company came through the cemetery and tore out 15 to 20 trees. They believe the truck was clearing a neighbor's adjoining property. Police say the loggers were clearly aware they were right in the middle of a cemetery.
Holland pointed out a gravestone from 1778 right next to a freshly cut tree. "It's kind of hard to miss that," he said.
Many of the gravestones are cracked with age, but you can still see signs of new damage."When you've got such a white color like that," Holland points out, "you've got a fresh break."
The Historic Effingham Society says Griffin Cemetery is one of the oldest family cemeteries in the area. Two Confederate soldiers are even buried here.
"This is just an unbelievable thing that has happened," said Betty Renfro of the society. "I can't believe they couldn't have worked around the cemetery not to have done that much damage to it."
Not only were graves knocked over and run over, you can see the mess that the logging company has left behind. Detective Holland was clear about the seriousness of the damage, saying, "There's felony charges involved in this, so it is a serious crime."
The logging company may have to pay for the damage that was done to the trees. But police say putting a price on these historic gravesites is another matter. "You've got some that are over 100 years old," said Holland. "You can't put a new one up, but it's not the one that was put there when they were first laid to rest."
Police say charges are pending. They still want to talk with the logging company--and the neighbor who called the company in.