Wallingford man charged with vandalizing ones of America’s oldest cemeteries

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WALLINGFORD — Weeks after one of the country’s oldest cemeteries was vandalized, a Wallingford man is facing charges.

On November 6, the caretaker of the Center Street Cemetery reported that two gravestones, a memorial post, and a larger gravestone were damaged the previous evening. One of the gravestones had been knocked over and the second was broken in half. The memorial post was broken and the larger gravestone had been displaced from its original position. The total cost to repair the items was estimated at approximately $1,100, police said. But, personal belongings were found near the damaged gravestones. The cemetery is one of the oldest in the United States.

Officers investigating the vandalism were able to identify some of the items as property of Joel Herrle, 29, according to Lt. Michael Colavolpe. Police interviewed Herrle at his home in Wallingford.

Herrle explained that he was intoxicated the previous evening and got into a physical altercation outside the walls of the cemetery after leaving a bar, police said. Herrle said he ran into the cemetery, and in doing so stepped on a gravestone. Herrle explained that he leaned on a second gravestone which gave way. Herrle could not recall the complete details of the previous evening due to his level of intoxication, police said.

On Monday, November 28 Herrle turned himself into police after being notified that there was an arrest warrant for him.

He’s charged with criminal mischief in the third degree and simple trespass. He was released on a $1,000 bond and is scheduled to appear at Meriden Superior Court on December 12.