MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — A 32-year-old man was arrested and charged with vandalizing several graves at the Newport Memorial Park earlier this month, according to Middletown Police Captain Jason Ryan.
Ryan said they received a call from the cemetery on Feb. 6 regarding the vandalism, which was first discovered by Pete Souza, a former forensics detective who was visiting his uncle’s grave at the cemetery.
He said while walking through the cemetery, he noticed several of the plaques marking the graves had been pried from the ground.
“My instincts said something is amiss here,” he recalled.
The investigation led detectives to a scrap yard in Westport, where someone had attempted to sell the plaques.
Police ultimately traced it all back to Kendall Maloney, a Newport resident who used to be a grounds keeper for the cemetery until he was let go last summer.
Maloney was charged with breaking and entering, larceny and the removal of marks on veterans’ graves.
Ryan said several of the stolen plaques have since been recovered, though the incident remains under investigation.
12 News reached out to the cemetery but they refused to comment.