Almost 50 gravesites vandalized at Mariposa cemetery, suspect arrested

The Mariposa County Sheriff's Office says 27-year-old Marlon Ortez damaged 47 gravesites at the cemetery on Sunday.

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Saturday, January 21, 2023
Dozens of gravesites vandalized at Mariposa Cemetery, suspect arrested
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Investigators say the suspect also destroyed several decorations that had been left at the gravesites.

MARIPOSA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A man has been arrested for allegedly vandalizing dozens of gravesites at the Mariposa Cemetery over the weekend.

The Mariposa County Sheriff's Office says 27-year-old Marlon Ortez damaged 47 gravesites at the cemetery on Sunday.

Investigators say Ortez also destroyed several decorations that had been left at the gravesites.

Some of the headstones that were destroyed date back to the 1840s.

Like many in the community, Rocky Rockwood has offered his services to the Masonic Lodge.

Making stones is one of his specialties as a rock mason.

After surveying the damage left behind at the cemetery, Rockwood says it's going to be a challenging repair.

"You cannot bring a tractor in here. It's all going to be hand work. Maybe scaffold and outriggers and chains and hoist," Rockwood explained.

Some graves are made with Italian Marble that Rockwood says can't be replaced.

"You may be able to use some new epoxy that they have, but some have actually broken in half. You may have to cut off the bottom and re-attach it," said Rockwood.

Mariposa County Supervisor Supervisor Danette Toso says she's been receiving calls about the vandalism non-stop.

"They are sick about what's happening here at the cemetery. They have loved ones buried here. Ancestors for many, many years, and it's just atrocious what happened," said Toso.

Deputies say they are working to figure out how much it will cost to repair or replace all of the damaged headstones.

Investigators say when they spoke to Ortez after the vandalism, he admitted to the crime.

He was arrested and booked into the Mariposa County Jail for felony vandalism.