Vandals damage several headstones in rural Howell County cemetery

HUTTON VALLEY, Mo. -- Vandals damaged several headstones at an old family cemetery in rural Howell County.

Online cemetery records say there are more than 250 people buried in the Hutton Valley Cemetery; many dating back to the 1870's and 1880's and one dating back to 1851. The Hinds family here in Hutton Valley, are the caretakers and discovered that five older headstones had been damaged.

"Somebody couldn't respect something that's been here this's just sad," Hutton Valley resident Lynette Thomas exclaimed.

On Friday, Joel Hinds' father, Kelly, reported to the Howell County Sheriff's Office that five headstones, all together in a small area on the eastern side of the cemetery had been vandalized.

One was completely removed from the ground.

Generations of the Hinds' family have taken great pride over the years in the upkeep of the cemetery.

"We try to keep the cemetery up. We want to respect those that have gone before," Joel Hinds said.

Family names are visible on only two of the five headstones.

Larry and Lynette Thomas visit their loved one's in the cemetery and know it could have been worse.

"It could have been them too."

The Howell County Sheriff's Office is investigating and deputies say they believe folks use the tucked-away cemetery and a turn-around spot nearby, as a place to do drugs among other things.

If vandalism of the cemetery were to continue, the Hinds say they may have to put a gate up and lock it.

"We have people coming from out of town and they say, well I know my family is from that area, we'll go try to find the markers. We want them to be able to do that," Hinds told KY3.

Lynette Thomas hopes the person or persons responsible have a guilty conscience.

"I would like to see somebody have to come and lift these again, they're heavy and clean this up and take care of it."

The Howell County Sheriff's Office is asking for anyone with information about the crime to contact them.

As for the Hinds, they tell KY3 they will take time in the near future to repair the headstones and continue their up-keeping.