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PAWTUCKET â€” Police say that a 44-year-old city man was arrested after being seen kicking over headstones in the Walnut Hill Cemetery early Tuesday morning, and later admitted to committing a rash of vandalism at the historic graveyard over the weekend.
Kevin N. Domingos was arrested by a patrol officer at around 7:30 a.m. following a report from a concerned citizen who observed him doing the damage and called police, said Capt. John Seebeck. He added that the caller stayed on the phone with police and helped provide identifying details that led to Domingos' arrest.
Seebeck said that under police questioning, Domingos admitted to knocking over 38 stones in the Walnut Hill Cemetery between Saturday night and Sunday morning and had kicked over four more on Tuesday morning. As such, he was charged with a total of 42 counts of desecrating a grave, each of which is a felony, Seebeck said.
Domingos, who is believed to also be a violator from a previous District Court complaint, was scheduled to be arraigned in District Court on Tuesday afternoon.
On Tuesday morning, between 40 and 50 headstones were discovered toppled off their bases by city workers in the city-owned Oak Grove Cemetery, located adjacent to the privately-owned Walnut Hill Cemetery.
Pawtucket DPW Director Lance Hill said that this damage must have occurred sometime Monday night or early Tuesday morning, because workers had been in the cemetery on Monday afternoon and the headstones had not been overturned at that time.
Hill said that as time permits, DPW workers will remount and repair the toppled headstones. In addition to the labor involved in the repairs, Hill expressed sadness at the desecration to the cemetery, which is also a historical property. â€śIt's very unfortunate...the disrespect that happens out there,â€ť he stated.
Hill said that the main gates to the cemetery are locked each night, but the property isn't secured completely, allowing access to those on foot. He said that as a public cemetery, people walk through the property all the time.
He also said there have been consistent problems with vandals cutting holes in the fence that separates Oak Grove from Walnut Hill. â€śIt's a constant battle trying to repair that fencing,â€ť he said.
As of presstime, it was not known if police have a suspect in the Oak Grove vandalism.