A Fairfax City youth was charged yesterday with burglary, arson and desecrating a cemetery there after he and a friend allegedly overturned 92 tombstones and set fire to a small office building on the grounds.
Police said the vandalism occurred early Tuesday and the 17-year-old was arrested a few hours later after a police officer followed muddy footprints to a nearby neighborhood. Police were searching yesterday for the second youth, who reportedly is visiting the area for the holidays, according to Thomas R. Welle, Fairfax City's information officer.
Welle said the youth who was arrested offered little explanation for the activity. "It was just a vandalism spree, just two juveniles on a spree," he said.
It will cost $2,000 to reset the tombstones, the city estimates. Eight of the tombstones were broken, adding $2,000 to the cost, according to Welle.
The fire gutted the small office building, where some of the cemetery records are stored, according to Welle. Most of the records are kept at City Hall.
The cemetery, which dates to the mid-1800s, is located on Main Street (Rte. 236) near the Massey Building and the county juvenile detention center. About 7,000 people are buried on the 10-acre site that the city has owned and operated since 1965.