Graveyard vandalism unsettling for two families

KEAPANA — What would a person do with an urn? What would a person do with five urns?

Those questions have been plaguing Sharon Kojima ever since the Kojima family discovered their family gravesite at the Keapana cemetery had been desecrated.

“My grandfather came Sunday to visit because it was my grandmother’s birthday,” Kojima said. “And what he found was upsetting.”

Someone had toppled the headstone and its pedestal, and removed the heavy concrete slab atop the columbarium.

“We had three urns in there, and they took them,” she said.

Four plots down, the Yasuda gravesite suffered a similar fate.

“They took two urns from that grave,” Kojima said.

Taking the urns did not upset her as much as the fact the vandals undid one or more of the urns and dumped its contents into the columbarium.

“We got a couple of new urns and scooped and collected as much of the remains as we could,” Kojima said. “We called the minister of the church and he came to the graveyard with the police.”

The minister walked through the entire cemetery and said the damage was inflicted only to the two graves, a fact that has Kojima wondering why.

As careful as the family was to collect the remains of the urns, evidence of the spillage was evident in one of the hollow concrete blocks that form the walls of the columbarium.

“Some of the remains were on the ground, and we tried to gather those as best as we could,” Kojima said.

Screws that held the urn together were strewn about the platform of the grave.

Less than a week after the vandalism was discovered, the Yasuda headstone has been set back to its rightful position and the only evidence of the grave desecration is the cracked concrete foundation.

Sharon Kojima is still upset about the entire incident.

“It’s sad,” she said. “You can’t bring anything to the graveyard anymore. Lots of times, if you bring expensive vases and things, they get taken.”

Before her grandfather’s visit, Sharon said her aunt came to visit on New Year’s Eve and everything was all right.

She said the Keapana cemetery has a yardman who comes on Mondays and he said he didn’t notice anything unusual.

Kojima said she doesn’t expect the vandals will ever be caught.

“But it would be nice if they could at least return the urns,” she said.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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