AKRON, OH (WOIO) - A new lock and chain bolt the front door of a century-old mausoleum at the East Akron Cemetery after someone broke through the front doors, broke into a vault, and dumped a WWI veteran's body on the floor.
"To desecrate a grave, that's unforgivable. I don't even know how God can forgive you for desecrating a grave. He's already been laid to rest," said Rita Day-Lavelle.
It's an evil act that's beyond belief. Day-Lavelle said she'll never understand how someone could stoop so low.
"It's still not real. It's just not real," she said.
Day-Lavelle found the body Tuesday morning. She couldn't believe her eyes.
"It was a suit. He had a tie, the tie was back this way, and it hit me," she said. "They had to have opened the coffin and literally taken his body out because the coffin is slanted (one) way on the floor and he's laying (the other) way and he's face up."
Akron police said the man laid to rest there was Ralph Boetcher. His obituary shows he was 85, served in WWI, lived in Akron for more than 50 years and worked at Goodyear for decades. He died in January of 1980.
"It's just like he's being reburied again and I just cannot imagine the family being told that they're going to have to rebury their loved one," Day-Lavelle said.
Larry Long is a former groundskeeper at the cemetery. He's disgusted by the crime.
"It's disrespectful. They're supposed to rest in peace. It takes somebody pretty low to do something like that," he said.
It's a despicable act, Day-Lavelle said; it breaks her heart.
"It's so hard. I can't even comprehend this. I don't know why somebody or how. He was 85 years old they told me. I just don't get it. I just don't get it at all," she said.
The cemetery isn't commenting at this time. Volunteers said they plan to install security cameras at the mausoleum as soon as next week.
Akron police said the break-in happened sometime between 2 p.m. Monday and 10:35 a.m. Tuesday.
Whoever committed the crime caused a lot of damage to the mausoleum that'll need to be fixed. The cemetery is volunteer-based.
If you'd like to help, call 330-784-7238.