Three arrested in cemetery vandalism

LEWISTON — Authorities on Tuesday announced the arrests of three Lewiston men in connection with the desecration last week of one of the city's oldest cemeteries.

Shane Haskell

Shane Haskell

Billie Coburn

Billie Coburn

Jesse Macia

Jesse Macia

Police charged Shane Haskell, 20, of 98 Pierce St., Billie Coburn, 18, of 131 Horton St., and Jesse Macia, 18, of 125 Pierce St. with aggravated criminal mischief and desecration and defacement of a burial site in connection with widespread vandalism at Riverside Cemetery.

All three remained at the Androscoggin County Jail on Tuesday night. Haskell was being held on $1,000 cash bail; Coburn and Macia, each on $100 cash bail.

"They should be made an example of," said Marilyn Burgess, 72, of Leeds. "Being caught means they won't be free to do it again. Fixing those stones ain't worth a damn if they can do it again."

Burgess was among those throughout the county outraged by the weekend rampage at the graveyard that dates back to the early to mid-1800s. Burgess serves as the legislative liaison for the Maine Old Cemetery Association. She was at the Summer Street cemetery to check on the graves of her relatives when she heard the news.

"This senseless act of vandalism has really touched a nerve in the Police Department and in this community," Chief Michael Bussiere said in a written statement. "But one positive development has been the outpouring of support from those that have volunteered to help restore the graves at the Riverside Cemetery."

The suspects are alleged to have toppled more than 100 headstones sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning last week. Some of the stones were 200 years old and weighed 1,000 pounds or more.

Many were completely torn from their bases, including those marked with small American flags as veterans' graves. A few stones had rolled downhill and were found beside the cemetery road.

"This situation opened the eyes of a lot of people," said Kevin Ouellette, who has worked as groundskeeper at the 40-acre cemetery for 12 years. "It's reminded people that Riverside Cemetery is here. You've got families that have been here for decades. At least everybody is aware of the place again."

Ouellette extended heartfelt thanks to the dozens of volunteers who have been arriving at the cemetery in a steady stream since the story broke late last week. Several companies have called about helping restore and repair the stones, he said. He is hopeful that most of the restoration work can be done in a matter of weeks. Repairs could cost upward of $50,000.

Despite Tuesday's arrests, the case remained under investigation by the Lewiston Police Department, and additional arrests and charges are likely. Lt. Mark Cornelio of the Lewiston Police Department declined to release any details about the case, including how many other suspects the police are investigating or how detectives developed leads in the case.

Cornelio praised the efforts of Detective Lee Jones, who worked closely with the patrol division and the Community Resource Team during the investigation.

A search of Sun Journal archives showed that Haskell was arrested this past June on charges of assault and refusing to submit to arrest or detention, and in August 2008 on a charge of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer. Macia was arrested in June on charges of disorderly conduct and possession of an illegal drug.

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 's picture

Great idea! Public flogging

Great idea! Public flogging would go a long way as well too I think.

 's picture


I thought his idea was great!

JON MENNEALY'S's picture

Lewiston Police

Thanks to the LPD for the quick arrests of these three. Although there wasn't too much information released, special thanks to Det. Lee Jones and any other officers involved. If there are more culprits out there, I hope their freedom doesn't last much longer. Also to Mr. Skelton for the monetary incentive to help catch them. Sometimes a community has enough of this type of senseless violence/vandalism and bands together to put a stop to it. Lewiston, along with other local communities did just that. And the Lewiston PD did a great job getting these guys quickly.

 's picture

a serial killer would have

a serial killer would have left evidence. csi? they cought these scumbags how? good old fashoned detecting.

RONALD RIML's picture

Haven't we seen Billie Coburn

Siting' on a bridge somewhere playing a banjo??

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"Ain't been right since he

"Ain't been right since he fell out of that there tree; his brains came right outa his hayd"

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

These three cowboys should be

These three cowboys should be required to repair the damages as part of their punishment, supervised daily by a law enforcement officer and a representative of the cemetery staff. Let them experience the pain and work on a daily basis of rectifying the damage they have done. And, when they've finished the project; throw their sorry asses in jail for 6 months.

 's picture

I wouldn't want those scum

I wouldn't want those scum bags serving next to me!

 's picture

what A scum bags

I hope some day they learn what goes around comes around and i hope they like bubba

 's picture

They had a good time

They had a good time violating hundreds of dead people in the cemetary and got off on it. Why can't Bubba? Just sayin...

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Yes and yes.

Yes and yes.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

This is from a guy who favors

This is from a guy who favors the abolishment of cemeteries and we're supposed to take YOU seriously? WALK THE PLANK, kondog.

 's picture

...and building strip malls

...and building strip malls is an excellent use of land?????

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You call $40,000 worth of

You call $40,000 worth of damage a victimless crime? Someone's going to have to come up with that money to repair the damage that was done. What are you, part of some witless protection program?

 's picture


That was just plain condescending, mean and rude!!! Leave this grieving woman alone!!

 's picture

They're not a "waste of

They're not a "waste of space" for those who grieve and visit their lost loved ones.

Jen Bernier's picture

I don't think so...wouldn't

I don't think so...wouldn't want them holding any type of firearm and protecting our country! The belong in jail. Don't worry i'm sure this won't be their last visit!!

 's picture

Those pictures are of three

Those pictures are of three people that haven't eaten enough prison food. bon appetit, you morons.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

What do Somalis and

What do Somalis and foreigners have to do with vandalizing the cemetery? Are you a crusader for Somali freedom?


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