A 29-year-old man accused of causing more than $1,000 of damage at a 300-year-old burial ground in Wallingford told police he was drunk when he damaged the headstones, but he could not recall all the details of the night because he was so drunk, according to police.
Police started investigating the vandalism after the caretaker of the Center Street Cemetery contacted them on Nov. 6 and reported that two gravestones, a memorial post and a larger gravestone were damaged the previous evening.
One of the gravestones had been knocked over and the second was broken in half, police said. The memorial post was broken and the larger gravestone had been displaced from its original position.
Investigators found personal items near the damaged gravestones and said they belonged to 29- year-old Joel Herrle.
When officers found him at his home, Herrle told police he’d been drunk, got into a fight outside the walls of the cemetery after leaving a bar, then ran into the cemetery, where he stepped on one gravestone, then leaned on a second gravestone, which gave way, police said.
Herrle went on to say he could not recall the complete details of the night before because of his level of intoxication.
He turned himself in on Monday after learning there was a warrant for his arrest. He has been charged with charged with third-degree criminal mischief and simple trespass. He was released on a $1,000 bond and is scheduled to appear at Meriden Superior Court on Dec. 12.
The burial ground is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and includes remains of many people prominent in Connecticut history, including Lyman Hall, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.