March 07, 2017

Reward now at $74,000 for info on vandalism at Jewish cemetery in Northeast Philly

The cash reward for information helping the investigation into last week's vandalism of gravestones at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia has increased again.

The Philadelphia Police Department announced Tuesday that an additional $5,000 had been donated, bringing the total reward to $74,000 for the identities of those responsible for toppling hundreds of headstones at the Jewish cemetery last week.

Police were alerted to the vandalism on Feb. 26 by someone who had been visiting the cemetery at Frankford and Cheltenham Avenues in the city's Wissinoming section.

An investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.

“We must allow the investigation to take its course before we can determine a specific motive or label as a particular type of crime," police said in a statement. "However, this is an abominable crime that appears to target these particular headstones. We will continue to work to determine the person(s) responsible and make sure that they are held accountable for this reprehensible act.”

Of the latest donations, $1,000 came from the 15th District Advisory Council and $4,000 was provided anonymously.

Last week, $69,000 was made available by the following sources:

 Miami resident Ronald Firman and Las Vegas resident Martin Burns, $18,000
Office of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, $15,000
Philadelphia City Councilman Alan Domb, $12,000
Anonymous, $11,000
The Anti-Defamation League and Mizel Family Foundation, $10,000
Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, $3,000

Most of the reward money is contingent upon an arrest and conviction of anyone involved. The FOP's donation can be claimed for an arrest only.

Numerous donations also have been received to fund repairs for the destruction. A GoFundMe page has raised more than $22,000 as of Tuesday afternoon, and the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council has pledged to replace damaged areas and install security features.

The vandalism at the cemetery was just one incident in a wave of threats nationwide against the Jewish community. Dozens of community centers received bomb threats and other cemeteries have been desecrated.

Juan Thompson, of Missouri, was arrested last week and charged with making threats to Jewish Community Centers in Dallas and San Diego. Authorities have not said Thompson is connected to the Jewish cemetery vandalism in Northeast Philly or elsewhere.