[Taken from KCRG News Report]
Iowa City Man Accused of Vandalizing Cemetery
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Crews at Iowa City’s Oakland Cemetery have spent nearly 50 man hours cleaning up vandalism to fences, signs and buildings after police say a 34-year-old Iowa City man repeatedly defaced the property.
Areli Jamal River was arrested Wednesday night on suspicion of second-degree criminal mischief, a felony, after staff members caught him writing with black marker on fences, garage doors and other property at the cemetery, 1000 Brown St., according to a criminal complaint.
Cemetery Superintendent Bob Deatsch told KCRG the vandalism began March 19 with “really goofy” scribbling that included smiley faces and the word “vulva” paired with diagrams. The vandal returned night after night and wrote antagonizing phrases like, “I don’t lose,” and “Keep going,” Deatsch said.
“And he drew faces on everything,” he said.
Deatsch said the suspect didn’t mar any head stones, but he hit the gazebo in the deeded body area. That, along with some permanent damage to the cemetery’s garage doors, was among the hardest to remove.
“The worst thing he did was draw on the gazebo,” Deatsch said. “I’m just glad he left the head stones alone.”
The suspect returned nearly every night, and Deatsch said he started staying at the cemetery to try and catch him. Wednesday night, Deatsch said he saw the man writing, “Play fair” on a building and followed him to his home at 1440 Prairie du Chien Road.
“I just walked up behind him and asked him why he was tearing up the cemetery,” Deatsch said. “He didn’t have an excuse.”
Deatsch called the police, and he said River admitted to everything – although his motive remains unclear.
“He said he couldn’t explain it,” Deatsch said.
The estimated cost to clean up and restore the property is $1,200, according to police.
Deatsch said he’s never seen this type of persistent vandalism at the cemetery before, and he said there’s nothing they can do to prevent vandals in the future.
“I can’t be here to babysit every night,” he said.
River was released from the Johnson County Jail on Thursday morning.
The article's fairly accurate, it's actually the best piece of journalism I've seen written about myself to date. That's probably do partly to the fact that I wasn't interviewed... I hate talking to journalists so much. They did still manage to misquote me (my graffiti) at least once though, I'm quite positive I never wrote "I don't lose." I'm very familiar with losing.
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