Suspect arrested on vandalism charges

Published 3:05 pm Monday, December 16, 2013

COURTLAND—A Wakefield man was arrested Monday on charges of vandalizing a cemetery in Sebrell this past September, reported Maj. Gene Drewery, spokesman for the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office.



Toney Allen Brock, 25, has been charged specifically with intentional damage to a monument greater than $1,000, and injury to a permanent object of a cemetery, both considered felonies, and injury to a temporary object of a cemetery, which is considered a misdemeanor in this instance.

Brock paid a $7,500 bond late Monday, and he’ll be formally charged at 9 a.m. Friday, Dec. 20, in Southampton County General District Court.

Drewery said evidence was found at the scene that led to the suspect’s arrest.

That evidence was likely what was collected by Southampton County Sheriff’s Deputy R. Colby, who came to the scene after Mindy Purvis called him following her discovery of the vandalism.

On the evening of Sept. 29, Purvis, who lives in Courtland had gone to the Butts Family Cemetery on Old Hickory Road in order to pay respects to her mother, Mabel L. Brown.

Purvis said she first saw that the marker for Clarence Delaware Williams had been pulled out of its setting and broken. He and Richard T. Williams, buried close by, are her kin. Richard, she said, was a descendant of her grandmother, Ruby Hines. Purvis inspected a set of graves nearest to the road and saw those also had been vandalized.

About 17 gravesites were disturbed either by markers broken or tipped over, and floral arrangements are scattered in several places; no graffiti was evident.

Calling the acts then as “devastating” and “mean spirited,” she maintains those feelings.

“My reaction is still about the same,” Purvis said. “My concern now is that, hopefully, we will get a conviction, and if anyone else involved, his arrest will bring them to the forefront as well.”

“We’re still in the process of cleaning,” she continued, “and also in the process of collecting funds for the restoration.”

Speaking for Helen Joyner, the cemetery’s caretaker, Purvis said she’s trying to coordinate funds and the restoration. As yet, she added, nothing has been done in the way of clean-up or erecting new monuments.

Since the destruction, members of the Sebrell community established a $1,500 reward to find the person or persons who vandalized the cemetery. Plus, the Sebrell Civic Club plans to make a separate donation to the descendants for the purpose of restoring the cemetery.