Man Vandalizes Gravestone of Deceased Man He Claims Stole $300 From Him 56 Years Ago: Police

A grudge over $300 that lasted for 56 years led to the repeated vandalism of a gravestone at a Montgomery County cemetery, according to police.

Paul Donovan, 68, of Phoenixville, was arrested last week and charged with theft and vandalism.

Police say Donovan repeatedly vandalized a man’s gravestone at the St. Matthews Cemetery in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. The vandalism, which lasted from the Spring of 2014 to Nov. 6 included black and red paint, as well as tar on the same gravestone.


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“This vandalism has occurred on at least four occasions,” said Whitemarsh Police Lieutenant Christopher Ward. “It really disturbed and bothered the family.”

Police determined the vandal was targeting one family and set up a surveillance camera in the tree above the gravestone. They then captured surveillance images of the suspect which NBC10 released last week. After that, the tips came in leading to Donovan’s arrest, officials said.

Police say Donovan has a relative who is buried at St. Matthews not far from the vandalized gravestone. After his arrest, Donovan allegedly confessed to the crime. What police say was most shocking however was his motive behind it.

“The suspect claims that 56 years ago when the deceased was 10 and this subject was 12, he claims that the [deceased] stole money from him and 56 years later he was getting back at him,” Lt. Ward said. “So for 56 years he lived with this grudge. He only realized that he had passed away within the last two years.”

Donovan allegedly claimed he would pay the victim’s family the money the vandalism cost them, minus the $300 he says he’s still owed from 56 years ago. 

Donovan is set to appear in court in December.

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