Bond set for cemetery vandalism suspect

February 2, 2008 3:15:29 PM PST
Bond has been set at a quarter-million dollars Saturday for an alleged neo-Nazi accused of defacing a Jewish cemetery.Investigators say 21-year-old Marush Wiedzekowski, a Polish national, is charged with felony criminal damage to property, criminal defacement, and institutional vandalism.

Prosecutors call it a hate crime. Police said Wiedzekowski, who said he is a member of a neo Nazi organization called NSM88, admitted to defacing nearly 60 tombstones in a Jewish cemetery early last month. He reportedly admitted to spraying Nazi swastikas and anti-Semitic writing on 57 headstones in Westlawn Cemetery in Norridge.

Wiedzekowski was required to surrender his passport. He is expected to return to Cook County Circuit Court February 15.

Officials believe Wiedzekowsk acted alone when he committed these crimes. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says a wide net was cast trying to solve this case and it was through the cooperation of the Des Plaines police department that an arrest was made.

"Des Plaines got info on a completely unrelated case that led us to this person, who led us to the individual we have in custody," said Sheriff Dart.

The vandalism originally took place January 6 at West Lawn Cemetery in unincorporated Norridge. Dozens of headstones were sprayed with anti-Semitic images like swastikas and the Star of David hanging from a gallows. ABC 7's policy is to blur the inflammatory images.

"To see this and to face it and see the disrespect for people who are dead, it's so sad," said Phil Ferkel, Westlawn Cemetery, on January 11.

Thousands of dollars in property damage were done as a result of the vandalism and the sheriff's office now seeks restitution to those graves affected in addition to any fines and jail time that could result from the charges against Wiedzekowski.

"...The amount of damage has gone back and forth.... physically done to these markers. From the get go it's the emotional damage you're not going to put a dollar price on. You're never going to be able to fix," said Sheriff Dart.