By Briona Arradondo
WELLSVILLE, Ohio (WTOV/CNN) - An Ohio man is in jail accused of vandalizing nearly 300 tombstones.
Officials say the damage will cost about $500,000 to repair.
A serious crime some are calling unthinkable; 288 gravestones vandalized at Springhill Cemetery in Wellsville, Ohio.
"How do you deal with it? I don't know because it's a wave of emotions. This is a place that's considered sacred, considered sacred to so many families that have loved ones buried here," said Chief Joe Scarabino with the Wellsville Police Department.
Chief Scarabino says in late December officers called an ambulance for a young man found asking for help. But something didn't add up.
"So I instructed the guys, hey you better go up there and take a look at that cemetery something don't smell right. And when they come up here on patrol to take a look around, that's when they first noticed a lot of tracks in the snow and that the tombstones had been tipped over," said Chief Scarabino.
Police say 19-year-old Jacob Lowther is one of three people involved, including two juveniles.
He's in the Columbiana County Jail on a felony vandalism charge and obstructing official business.
"The damage to hundreds of tombstones is random and widespread. Even the grave marking the city's founder was destroyed," said Chief Scarabino.
The police chief can't say what was used to knock over the stones, and the cemetery superintendent says some can't be replaced.
"I would just say to the community and those surrounding cemeteries, you know, just keep an eye out for each other, in hopes that nothing so despicable would ever occur again,' said Chief Scarabino.
The cemetery superintendent says the goal is to have all the graves repaired by Memorial Day.