UNITY, Maine (AP) – Two teenage girls awaited court appearances Thursday following their arrests in connection with vandalism at a cemetery in Unity and the desecration of a nearby church.

State police said the girls were 13 and 14 and from the local area, but their names were not released because they were juveniles. The two were arrested late Tuesday and were held at Mountain View Youth Development Center pending their initial appearance in Rockland District Court.

Police said the girls knocked down or broke 49 gravestones at Quaker Hill Cemetery and splattered paint, broke windows and wrote obscenities at the Quaker Hill Christian Church.

Damage to the church will run into the thousands of dollars, but the cost of replacing the gravestones is expected to be even higher, said Trooper Thomas Welch, who is investigating the case.

“From what I’m hearing, gravestones don’t come cheap. The dollar amount here is still up in the air, but it’s going to be significant,” he said.

The girls allegedly stole a car Tuesday morning and went on a joyride before leaving the vehicle in Oakland, Welch said. The two have been charged with burglary, he said, and other charges are expected.

Police received a report of the cemetery vandalism around noon Tuesday. Earlier in the day, a caller reported the theft of the car.

“(The suspects) more or less traveled around and met up with old friends, and from what we know right now, they went to Waterville, Oakland, Albion,” the trooper said.

A member of the Unity Cemetery Committee said the extent of the damage indicates that more people must have been involved. Beverly Winship said the obscene and blasphemous graffiti on the church walls was at the shoulder height of a 6-foot-tall person. In addition, some of the slabs on which gravestones had been mounted were upended despite having been embedded about 8 inches into the ground.

“Either the girls are awfully big or they have some accomplices,” Winship said.

AP-ES-07-10-08 1404EDT

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