Historic headstones damaged

Ashland police arrested two men early this morning for damaging two of the oldest tombstones in Ashland. Bryan Epes and Jon Hegstad, both 22-year-olds who share an apartment on California Street, are being charged with felonies for knocking over two headstones of people who were born in the 1800s.

"It's absolutely disgusting that individuals would vandalize memorial headstones to people who have died," said Ashland Deputy Police Chief Rich Walsh. "I hope the courts will give them what they deserve."

The grave markers are located in the city-owned cemetery on Morton Street behind Safeway. One belonged to Tommy Creichton, who was born in 1894 and died in 1909. The other was double plot, belonging to Chas. C. Million, born in 1865 and died in 1951, and his wife Mattie Sutherland, who was born in 1870 and died in 1923.

Million and Sutherland's headstone was broken, and will cost $1,500 to repair. Creichton's was knocked over and will cost $150 to put back in place, police said.

Police received an anonymous call at 1:36 this morning saying that graves were being damaged. Officer Theron Hull happened to be in the area, said Sgt. Teresa Selby, and caught the suspects "a couple blocks from the cemetery" on Morse Street.

"They had tombstone dust all over their hands and ankles," she said, adding that one of the suspects had blood on his hands, and there was also blood found on a fence of the cemetery.

Epes and Hegstad were taken to Jackson County Jail this morning. They are each being charged with two felonies and 10 misdemeanors counts, including two counts of abuse of memorial to the dead.

"It doesn't happen real often," Walsh said. "But periodically, every year or two, we get vandalism in a cemetery. Usually it is not as extensive as this. Normally nothing gets broken."

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