Sunday, November 16, 2014
Lower Southampton man arrested in veteran grave vandalism
Posted: Tuesday, November 11, 2014
A 29-year-old Lower Southampton man is accused in a vandalism spree that targeted veterans’ graves after his DNA evidence linked him to burnt American flags found at a Bensalem cemetery, police said.
Anthony Carter, of the 200 block of East Bristol Road, repeatedly denied that he vandalized the graves at Rosedale Memorial Park and the Roosevelt Memorial cemeteries as he was led out of Bensalem police headquarters Tuesday — Veterans Day.
“I don’t feel bad,” Carter said when asked if he was sorry about the vandalism.
But Bensalem police say that DNA evidence taken off the handles of the burnt American flags found at Roosevelt Memorial Park matched Carter’s genetic profile. Police believe Carter is responsible for five similar vandalism incidents in August and September.
“I’m glad this happened on Veterans Day,” Bensalem Director of Public Safety Fred Harran said.
Police found 12 small American flags, grave markers, veteran flag holders and flowers removed from veteran gravesites Aug. 25 at Roosevelt Memorial cemetery on Old Lincoln Highway, according to a probable cause affidavit. The items were grouped together and burned. Cemetery property also sustained damage, police said.
The cemetery caretaker later told police an earlier similar vandalism incident occurred but it was not reported to police.
The next day, police responded to Rosedale Memorial Park cemetery on Richleu Road where the owner reported someone gathered grave markers including American flags and veteran flag holders, grouped them together and burned them, the affidavit said.
Bensalem police started surveillance at the cemeteries and on Sept. 5 a caretaker found three separate areas of the Roosevelt Memorial Park cemetery where small American flags had been grouped together and burned, the affidavit said. Police took routine DNA swabs of the burnt flag handles.
A witness told police he saw a man walking through the cemetery shortly before the vandalism was discovered. A man matching the witness’s description — later identified as Carter — was again seen walking through the cemetery while police were conducting the investigation.
Carter had two matchbooks on him when he was stopped, according to the affidavit. He denied any involvement in the vandalism, but consented to a DNA cheek swab, police said.
Bensalem police received notice Tuesday that Carter’s DNA was a match to the DNA pulled from the burnt flag handles, police said.
Carter was arraigned before District Judge Mark Douple on charges including institutional vandalism, arson, possessing an instrument of crime, criminal mischief and reckless burning or exploding. He was sent to Bucks County prison in lieu of 10 percent of $10,000 bail.