By Mindy Lucas
Several headstones in an historic Jewish cemetery in downtown Beaufort have been defaced with graffiti, police reports show.
The graffiti, discovered at the Beth Israel Cemetery on Bladen Street, was reported to the Beaufort Police Department on Monday, April 27, according to a report released by the department.
An officer with the department responding to a call about the vandalism found the name “Jesus” and a heart symbol etched on the backs of at least seven headstones. The markings were found on six headstones belonging to one family, and a seventh headstone belonging to a second family.
According to the individual who made the call to the police, the cemetery had been cleaned two weeks before the incident and the marks were not there then, the person told the officer. The caller had gone to the cemetery to check on lawn work when the graffiti was discovered.
“We are saddened by this incident in our cemetery, or on any sacred property,” President of the Beth Israel Synagogue Barbara Mark said in an email. Mark went on to thank the Beaufort community for its support and said the thoughts are appreciated.
The one-block cemetery was purchased by the congregation in 1908, Mark said.
The cost to repair all seven of the damaged headstones could cost upward of $2,000 or more, the caller told the officer.
A permanent marker found behind a nearby bird bath has been submitted for fingerprint testing, the report stated.