Wednesday, June 19, 2013
BELGRADE -- Imagine how you would feel if your 17-year-old son died in an automobile accident.
THEFT: Lori McIntosh is upset that items left in front of the Belgrade gravestones of her sons, Joshua and Matthew Sliker, are being removed. She surveys the headstones with her husband, Tim McIntosh, Sunday. Tim McIntosh is the boys' stepfather.
Staff photo by Andy Molloy
Staff photo by Andy Molloy THEFT: Lori McIntosh is upset that items left in front of the Belgrade gravestones of her sons, Joshua and Matthew Sliker, are being removed.
Now imagine a year later losing another one of your boys to brain cancer.
Working through the pain and sadness of a child's death is a long, grueling process, so take a minute to collect yourself.
OK. Now imagine your reaction when items you place on their graves -- meaningful items that evoke loving memories of when they were alive -- are stolen.
Lori McIntosh of Belgrade, who struggles to hold back tears but doesn't always succeed, is forced to live with all those heart-wrenching feelings.
McIntosh, a nurse at the Belgrade Health Center, lost her son, Joshua Sliker, on March 18, 2005. He was killed in a car crash on the Drummond Road in Sidney. Her oldest son, Matthew, 26, succumbed to cancer on Aug. 1, 2006. Both boys attended Messalonskee High School. Her only son left is Mark Sliker, 29, of Waterville.
McIntosh, and her husband, Timothy McIntosh, visited her sons' graves on Sunday, which are side by side at Pinegrove Cemetery on Route 135 in Belgrade.
"We were putting some really nice stuff out for Christmas and their birthdays," Lori McIntosh said. "We spent $50 apiece for wrought iron lights with stands and they didn't last a week. Matt loved dogs, and his godmother came up from New Jersey and brought a solar lamp that hung from a yellow lab's mouth. They stole that and the crystal hearts. We had a set of blue hearts at Joshua's grave and they stole them. Silly things not valuable to anyone else, but they have meaning to us ... something they had said or a certain type of flower they liked. People are stealing our memories."
McIntosh said she reported the thefts to the state police a year ago, but the trooper she spoke with explained how difficult it is to solve these cases.
He said her two options would be for a state trooper to camp out at the cemetery, which she said is impossible, or try and catch the criminals on tape. And that's just what her husband wants to try and do.
"I'm going to put another set of nice lights out here and a install a camera with a motion detector and try and catch someone," Tim McIntosh said.
Belgrade Sexton Scott Damren said theft at the cemetery is an ongoing problem. Just recently, the shovel and wheelbarrow used to bury people were stolen.
"I don't know what to say about it," Damren said. "There's really no way to stop it except for community policing, keeping an eye on what's going on at the cemetery."
He said people should report suspicious activity in the cemetery to the police or call the Town Office, especially if they see people there at night.
"But we don't know, this could be happening in the middle of the day," he said.
He said the town is not liable for anything damaged or stolen from the graves.
Susan Damren of Belgrade said last week she went to the cemetery last week to plant mums around her father's grave and saw that someone had stolen the solar lights she had stuck in the ground.
"My dad's been gone four years and we like to make (his grave) look nice and put flowers there along with lights," Susan Damren said. "It's more of a comfort to us. I know it's not doing anything for him. My mother was sick when my dad passed away. We had her in the car when we drove up there to visit his grave, and wouldn't you know it, the plant she bought for him was gone. All we could do is cry."
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