DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — One person was arrested over the weekend after trespassing and vandalizing a historic cemetery.
David Procuniar’s great-great-grandfather was buried in one of the first cemeteries in Riverside. His family members have been buried there since 1864. For centuries, the family cemetery has stood in the same spot.
“They buried the first person here in 1823,” Procuniar said. “Ezekiel, I can’t think of his last name now. He was a brother-in-law of Mr. Dille, and they named it Dille Cemetery then.”
Procuniar’s forefathers followed the Dille family to what is now Riverside after David’s great-great-grandfather finished his service in the Civil War.
“He bought land, which I’ve got the deed still for,” Procuniar said. “He bought land in 1832 on Valley Pike, then built their house on it.”
Today, the headstones here are worn away, but the memory is as strong as ever in Procuniar’s heart. When he learned the headstones were vandalized, he was heartbroken.
On Monday, Procuniar led police to the secluded spot where they found damage, a dug up grave and people sleeping on his great-great-grandfather’s gravesite.
The man there was arrested, charged with criminal trespass, obstructing official business, desecration, resisting arrest and vandalism.
Procuniar and his wife have maintained the cemetery on their own for years. Now, several people have come forward to help clean up the site and help preserve a piece of history.
“You kind of feel like you’re with these relatives of mine, even though they’re dead,” Procuniar said. “I mean, they have to have somebody, you know, that cared for them.”
Procuniar says he does not mind if people come to pay their respects and honor his family’s history. He only asks that they show his family respect.