St. Luke cemetery targeted by vandals

About 20 headstones were toppled, the first vandalism in the congregation’s 160-year history.

Investigation continues: Police are looking into vandalism at the Memorial Church of St. Luke in Bustleton, where about 20 vertical stones were toppled from their bases. Photo: Thomas Truesdale

Another Northeast Philadelphia cemetery has become a target of vandalism.

On Aug. 22 at about 10 a.m., a congregant of Memorial Church of St. Luke in Bustleton found that about 20 headstones had been toppled in the burial ground adjoining the Episcopal house of worship at 1946 Welsh Road. Police said the damage occurred sometime after 3 p.m. the previous afternoon.

Police have made no arrests and have released no information about any suspects. A motive is not known.

Thomas Truesdale, a member of the church’s vestry and property committee, told the Northeast Times that about 20 vertical stones had been toppled from their bases, while three others had been shifted. None were broken or cracked, Truesdale said.

Within hours of the discovery, the Montefiore Cemetery Company, which operates a Jewish cemetery in Jenkintown, offered to help St. Luke’s reset the dislodged stones, Truesdale said. St. Luke’s plans to improve its security accommodations.

According to Truesdale, the congregation has never encountered similar vandalism in its 160-year history. The cemetery had between 150 and 200 burials, including veterans of the Civil War and World War I. One parishioner has ancestors buried there dating to 1891. The graves of two of his deceased relatives were damaged.

The vandalism was reminiscent of vandalism discovered in February at Mt. Carmel Cemetery, a Jewish burial ground at Frankford and Cheltenham avenues in Wissinoming. Police said at the time that perhaps 100 grave markers were vandalized. No arrests have been made in that case. ••