MONMOUTH — An argument between a mother and daughter on Friday night led to a demolition derby-style fight — with both women using their vehicles to ram each other — that significantly damaged headstones at the Monmouth Ridge Cemetery, officials say.
Granite headstones bearing the family names of Spear, Littlefield, Haskell and others lay in ruins in the wake of the vehicle battle, images of the damage show.
“They estimate about $35,000 in damages,” Monmouth police Officer Mike Mayer said Monday night. “Some of the headstones are old and expensive.”
Melissa K. Grant, 42, and her daughter Savannah N. Lowe, 20, both of Winthrop, reportedly got into a fight at the cemetery, located on Cemetery Road, about 6:30 p.m. Friday. They later were arrested and spent the weekend in the Kennebec County Correctional Facility, Mayer said.
“There were several stones broken, completely destroyed and several others knocked off their bases,” said Mike Cyr, who sits on the local cemetery board and has been the group’s treasurer since 1973.
The cemetery has headstones that date to the early 1800s, said Hugh LeMaster, president of the local cemetery board.
“They hit a large older stone with hand-cut lettering … and they hit some upright tablets,” said LeMaster, who also is vice president of the Maine Cemetery Association. “This damage happened in the older section of the cemetery.”
LeMaster said the officer who arrested the mother and daughter told him the incident involved the consumption of alcohol and he described the incident as “a drunken family melee.”
“I’ve never seen what I call a demolition derby in a cemetery,” the cemetery board president said. “Supposedly they were visiting a family plot. What about the pain they caused to everybody else? To the relatives of the families [with the broken or damaged headstones]? It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Lowe told police that she rammed her mother’s vehicle because she was afraid she was too drunk to drive, Mayer said.
“The daughter rammed the mother’s vehicle and the mother ran into the son. He was just standing there,” the officer said.
“She hit him from behind and catapulted him,” LeMaster said the arresting officer told him. “She apparently ran over her own son. Who runs over their own son?”
The two women were arrested on a slew of charges, five against Grant and two against her daughter, but as of Monday the charges against the women are in limbo, Mayer and a jail official said.
“They are not pressing charges at this point,” Mayer said, referring to the Kennebec County district attorney’s office. “The DA wants to review the case.”
A Kennebec County jail official said the district attorney’s office “did not proceed with the charges” and both women were released Monday at their first court appearance.
LeMaster said research is still being done to determine exactly how much it is going to cost to repair the damage.
Any of the large stones that were damaged may cost in excess of $20,000 to fix, he said.
Cyr said he was heartbroken when he saw the damage.
“It seems like insanity,” he said. “We have talked about spending the money and putting up gates at night. We’ve never done it, but I bet it will be a discussion item at our next board meeting.”