Three Clearfield Men Charged in Cemetery Vandalism Case

(Provided photo)

(Provided photo)

CLEARFIELD – Charges were filed today against three Clearfield men accused of knocking over dozens of gravestones at the Hillcrest Cemetery last week, according to the office of Magisterial District Judge Richard Ireland.

Darrin Robert Thompson, 25, Heath Hemphill Jr., 20, and Dylan Lee Cutler, 18, all of Clearfield, are facing charges of institutional vandalism/cemetery; intentional desecration of a public monument; historic lots and burial places; criminal mischief/damage property intentionally, recklessly or negligently; and public drunkenness.

Additionally, Thompson has been charged with selling/furnishing liquor, etc. to minors. Both Hemphill and Cutler have also been charged with the purchase, etc. of an alcoholic beverage by a minor.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Sept. 5 Sgt. Greg S. Neeper of the Clearfield Borough police was dispatched to meet with Matt Franson, the caretaker of the Hillcrest Cemetery, located at 404 Cemetery Rd. Upon arrival Franson showed Neeper where approximately 63 gravestones were damaged. Several veterans’ flags were also broken and removed from the ground.

On Sept. 6 Officer Shawn M. Fye was contacted about a male who matched the description of one of the three suspects. He was notified the suspect lived near the intersection of Hill and High streets. Fye and Officer Nathan Curry went to the area and interviewed residents, at which point Thompson came over and spoke with Fye. Thompson matched the description of one of the males in the surveillance video and was asked to assist police in identifying the other suspects. Thompson agreed and was transported to the police station.

Prior to viewing the video, Thompson admitted that he was one of the suspects in the cemetery. However, he told police he didn’t cause any damage. He identified Cutler, who was from Hillsdale, and his friend, who was Hemphill. Thompson confirmed their identities after viewing the video and provided a written statement to police.

On Sept. 6 Curry contacted Cutler to be interviewed at the station about the cemetery incident. Cutler arrived with his mother.  Initially, he told police he didn’t remember anything because he had been drinking. When confronted with previously received information, he admitted to drinking near his place and indicated Thompson had provided the alcohol.

Then, Cutler told Curry that Thompson mentioned walking around. He said they all went to the Salvation Army, where they found glass bottles and broke them. From there they went to the cemetery, where they all participated in tipping over the gravestones. Cutler said after the first few, he “went blank” and doesn’t remember anything until going home when the sun was coming up. Cutler also provided a written statement to police.

On Sept. 9 Curry contacted Hemphill at the Lawrence Park Village Apartment Complex. He was transported to the police station and agreed to speak with police. At the station, he was advised of the cemetery incident and surveillance video. Hemphill admitted to being involved with the damage at the cemetery and at the nearby Salvation Army. He provided a written statement, advising that he, Cutler and Thompson had been drinking and went for a walk. He said they initially went to the Salvation Army, where they broke glass vases found there. From there Hemphill said they went to the cemetery, where they “fooled around” the gravestones and started to tip them over.

On Wednesday Franson submitted estimated cemetery damages to police in the amount of $20,100.

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