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Teen accused of vandalizing St. Augustine cemetery

$40K worth of damage caused at Craig Memorial Park Mausoleum, deputies say

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A teenage boy was arrested after deputies said he vandalized a St. Augustine cemetery, causing $40,000 worth of damage.

Urns were overturned, headstones were broken and ashes were moved around at the Craig Memorial Park Mausoleum on Monday evening. 

It was late at night when a woman walking along a sidewalk heard a banging noise coming from the mausoleum inside the cemetery on Old Moultrie Road. According to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, she verbally confronted a suspicious person before he ran off. 

When deputies arrived to investigate, they found the unthinkable. 

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Cemetery caretakers said covers were broken, and the urns inside containing ashes were removed and placed at various locations on the ground.

According to the Sheriff's Office, at least three urns were removed and seven locations where urns were stored were damaged. Investigators said a vase and two headstones were also damaged.

The unidentified woman who confronted the person suspected of vandalizing the mausoleum was able to give deputies a description of him. Soon after, deputies said, they located a person matching the description, who was identified as Riley Kaelin, at a location near the cemetery. 

Kaelin, 17, faces felony charges of maliciously disturbing the contents of a grave and criminal mischief. He also faces a charge of probation violation. 

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A woman who lives directly across the street from the cemetery said she saw deputies investigating the scene, but had no idea what had happened until News4Jax told her on Wednesday.

"It's very disturbing that someone would do that," Susan Basso said. "I feel bad for the families."

According to the St. Johns County Jail booking department, Kaelin is no longer in jail. It’s unclear if he was released on bond or released into the custody of a close relative, who is a law enforcement officer.

Cemetery caretakers told News4Jax that families who had a loved one's urn removed have been notified and assured that the ashes were not removed from the urns.


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