San Bernardino

Sisters horrified after father's grave was vandalized and ashes dumped in San Bernardino

The Medrano family is pushing the city to increase security at the cemetery.

NBC Universal, Inc.

It was a horrifying moment for Margret and Andrea Medrano after they were told their father’s grave had been vandalized last Saturday. His ashes were also dumped nearby along with someone else’s. 

“I don’t even know which one is him,” yelled one sister as they arrived.

“I don’t know why anyone would do this. Maybe someone who is stealing the metal from the markers because they can melt it down for money. It has to be a homeless person with serious mental issues,” said Margret.

The Medrano sisters say their father -- who died 31 years ago from cancer -- is one of 12 relatives laid to rest at the historic Pioneer Cemetery on 9th Street and Sierra Way in San Bernardino. The resting place has minimal security and only gates and fencing, according to the city. 

“Some folks broke in with a crowbar and they went to several markers and opened them," said Jeff Kraus, spokesperson for the City of San Bernardino. "Damaged or stole them and the remains spread nearby. We found a crowbar away from where the marker. We assume that’s how they broke the lock at the gate."

Kraus Pioneer Cemetery, unlike other cemeteries, operates by the city’s general funds and is treated as a park with sunrise to sunset visitation hours. Recent homeless encampments have created problems for it, however. 

Now, the city says they are working with local law enforcement to find whoever vandalized the three grave markers and removed two urns. It's been a nightmare the Medrano sisters are still coping with.

“I was looking for a piece of his headstone to tell me that was him.  Over here, you can see loose dirt and rubble,” said Andrea.

They are planning a second funeral service 31 years later for their father. 

“If they are stealing for no reason or for metal, we have to do something. These are people’s families,” said Margret.

The City of San Bernardino tells NBC4 it is working with the family and replacing the damaged grave marker. Anyone with information is asked to contact the San Bernardino Police Department.

Contact Us