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Police: Juvenile acted alone in Felts Mills cemetery desecration

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A 15-year-old Fort Drum boy apparently acted alone, under evening twilight on July 9, in breaking about 15 headstones in Evergreen Cemetery on County Route 143 in the town of Champion, state police believe.

The suspect, whose name was not disclosed because he is a juvenile, was charged Wednesday with third-degree burglary and first-degree cemetery desecration, both felonies. He was released to his parents’ custody and awaits action with the Probation Department and in Family Court.

An investigator said that the investigation is closed and that no other arrests are anticipated.

The investigator alleges that at about 6:30 p.m. July 9, the youth broke into a locked storage shed at the cemetery and removed some tools, including a shovel and a sledgehammer, which he then used in leaving his path of destruction. Among targets in his spree were monuments of Revolutionary War veterans.

He offered no motive for the youth’s actions but, responding to a question, said the suspect was not under the influence of any substances.

There had been suspicion that perpetrators in a burglary at J&B Ice Cream, 36426 Route 26, across from Carthage Central School, were involved in the cemetery desecration. The investigator said state police policy prevents him from confirming that the 15-year-old he charged Wednesday is one of two youths charged July 10 in the J&B burglary. He said he also cannot comment about a possible connection with a Fort Drum youth charged on July 10 with third-degree criminal mischief in the probe of a break-in at the nearby Carthage Central School bus garage, where some windows were smashed.

He did acknowledge, however, that interviews in those two investigations led him to the juvenile arrest he made Wednesday.

The J&B burglary occurred about four to five hours after the cemetery vandalism, at about 11 p.m., the investigator said. Charged with third-degree burglary in that incident besides the juvenile is Nicholas A. Bozzi, 16, Fort Drum. The bus garage intrusion occurred about 5 or 6 a.m. the next day, he said.

Repairs at the cemetery were made at no charge late in July by Matthew R. Williams, a stonemason from Norwood.

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