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Published: Monday, 9/17/2001 - Updated: 2 years ago

Send cemetery thugs away

When a man is assaulted while tending his deceased wife's gravesite, society should be embarrassed. The courts should show no mercy toward the victim's assailant.

Bernard Quigley, 87, of Ottawa Hills, was about to water flowers on his late wife's gravesite in Calvary Cemetery last spring when he was beaten and robbed. He was hospitalized for several days after suffering a concussion, bruises, and lacerations.

Toledoans should be outraged when a cemetery becomes a place where visitors must worry about their safety.

The perpetrator was arrested, and Derrick M. Jordan pleaded guilty to felonious assault and aggravated robbery for his heinous act. He will be sentenced Sept. 28.

Mr. Quigley's wife passed away in 1986. It has been his habit to visit his wife's gravesite twice a day to pray. A devout Roman Catholic, he found the visits a connection that helped him cope with his loss.

We see nothing odd in that. Cemeteries are tranquil, peaceful places. The numerous trees give just enough shade and let through just enough sunlight to enhance the quiet setting.

Our city's historic cemeteries, Calvary and Woodlawn, are community treasures. It is abhorrent that citizens might feel threatened there, and that these places of solitude are themselves targets for mayhem by despicable and violent thugs.

It shouldn't have to be that way, and one way to reduce the risk of assault as well as cemetery destruction is for the courts to send a message by sentencing perpetrators to the strongest sentence allowed under the law.

Jordan could be sentenced to 18 years for his brutal crime against Mr. Quigley. Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Wittenberg will have that opportunity later this month.

Our cemeteries are our history, and cemetery crime of any sort is an affront to the entire community.

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