Pickaway News Journal

Thu, Jun 22, 2017

Police investigate desecration of fallen soldier's grave

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CIRCLEVILLE - The family of a soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2010 is suffering anew after finding his grave site at Forest Cemetery desecrated over the weekend.

Roger Jenkins, the father of Army Spc. Gerald R. Jenkins, 19, said the damage was discovered after threats were made by a known subject to vandalize the grave.

Along with the theft of numerous items adorning the grave, the laser image of his son in his Army uniform on the headstone has been deliberately scratched and burned.

"It's like opening an old wound, like when I first lost him," Jenkins said.

Gerald Jenkins, known as "Bub" to his family and friends, was a combat engineer assigned to the 1st Brigade Special Troop Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He was killed Oct. 20, 2010, by an improvised explosive device while on foot patrol in the Maquan, Zhari district of Afghanistan.

Jenkins said detectives at the Circleville Police Department have vowed to find whomever is responsible for the damage and bring them to justice.

"I'm leaving it up to God to help them," Jenkins said.

Circleville Police were notified of the damage Sunday evening.

"The headstone depicts Gerald Jenkins in his Army dress uniform," according to an official press release from the Circleville Police Department. "The persons responsible used an unknown object to take a large chip out of the top of the picture of Gerald. It also appears that whoever was responsible attempted to burn the facial area of the likeness on the headstone."

Investigators advise they have one person listed as a "person of interest" in the incident, which remains under investigation.

Jenkins said this is the first time since the day Bub was buried that anyone has bothered his grave. Jenkins said people usually treat it with respect, even take their children to the site to take photos and leave behind mementos in honor of his son.

"One time, a member of the Patriot Guard who escorted his funeral left a coin on top of the ledge, and that came up missing," Jenkins said. "It was there for about a year, and then it disappeared. I figured maybe some drug addict took it thinking they could get some money out of it. I didn't think they'd ever find it anyway, so I didn't report it. But other than that, no one has ever bothered anything out there."

Diane Smith of Defenbaugh-Wise-Schoedinger Funeral Home said she took photos of the stone Monday and sent them to Schoedinger's monument division to begin the process of having the stone repaired.

Smith said she was uncertain at this time how the repairs would be done or how long it may take.

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