Reward offered for information on who vandalized historic Bonham cemetery

BONHAM, TX - Multiple grave sights have been vandalized at an historic cemetery in Bonham. Now, the cemetery is offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the responsible party.

It's a resting place for nearly ten thousand people.

"It's where we come for comfort on our worst days, on our best days. It's what has forged our community together as one unit," said Willow Wild Board secretary Gary Porter.

Since 1878, Fannin County residents have come to bury and visit loved ones at the Willow Wild Cemetery in Bonham. But according to Porter and Bonham Police, vandals also recently paid a visit to the grounds.

"Bonham is not a place where events like this happen very often so it is a shock to us," said Porter.

Sunday afternoon a visitor discovered some overturned grave markers. When News 12 came to visit, they showed us eight grave stones which had been damaged.

Porter says the monuments are too heavy for one person to move by themselves. They estimate it will take three to six hundred dollars to replace each one, and they're still left wondering why someone would do this.

"I don't know that there is a motive for vandalism, except either meanness or disrespect, in this instance," said Bonham Police Chief Mike Bankston.

As we visited the oldest section of the graveyard where former speaker of the house Sam Rayburn is buried, we found at least six more headstones knocked over.

The cemetery is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the responsible party. But for now, only questions remain.

"I mean what do you get out of pushing a head stone over? You know? What do you get out of it?" said Chief Bankston.

Almost everyone we spoke to Wednesday had a relative buried at Willow Wild Cemetery. Porter tells us the best way the community can help is to donate toward the repair and restoration of some of the older grave markers, at www.willowwild.org.

And if you have any information on the vandalism, contact the Bonham Police Department.


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