Police arrested a cemetery caretaker on Thursday for allegedly dumping garbage and debris into graves at the historic Rahway Cemetery in New Jersey.
Health officials previously told Eric Rickes, 78, to clean up trash in and around the 300-year-old burial ground. After an investigation and eventually executing a search warrant, Rahway police said they found Rickes allegedly had been discarding waste materials into a grave.
He was arrested on Thursday and charged with one count of desecration of a place of burial. The investigation is ongoing to determine if other grave sites were affected.
“While these are allegations at this point, I am absolutely outraged by the possibility that these activities may have taken place,” Rahway Mayor Raymond Giacobbe said in a statement. “When we entrust the remains of our loved ones to a cemetery, there is an expectation that they will be treated with respect in perpetuity. If that has not happened here, it is completely unacceptable. I fully support law enforcement’s efforts to pursue these charges, see that appropriate penalties are meted out, and ensure that nothing along these lines ever happens again.”
Rahway Cemetery is the burial ground to many historic figures, including Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers, notable author Carolyn Wells, and signer of the Declaration of Independence Abraham Clark.