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Pastor Reports Significant Damage Done To Historic Headstones At Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

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There's is worry at a church cemetery made famous by the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The pastor says someone has done significant damage to historic headstones; CBS2's Tony Aiello reports.

Video Transcript

JESSICA MOORE: Now, to some concerning situation at a church cemetery made famous by "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

MAURICE DUBOIS: The pastor says someone has done a subtle but significant damage to historic headstones. CBS2's Tony Aiello has the story.

TONY AIELLO: In Sleepy Hollow, New York there's no escaping the legend of the headless horseman. 200 years ago, author, Washington Irving, familiar with the Old Dutch Church, took a name from this headstone for a main character, Katrina van Tassel. This historic marker, damaged by a female visitor in recent days.

JEFF GARGANO: She put some kind of chemical solvent on and then something that would be plastered up against it to take the impression.

TONY AIELLO: Reverend Jeff Gargano says seven headstones here were damaged, some of them chipped.

JEFF GARGANO: It's heartbreaking. It's worrisome.

TONY AIELLO: Most of them covered with a chalky residue, including this one at a nearby cemetery. There were suspicions it was done by someone who sells headstone castings as folk art, perhaps taking advantage of Hollywood's fascination with Irving's Gothic masterpiece. In Washington Irving's tale, this is the cemetery where the headless horseman tethers his frightening steed among the gravestones every night. Thousands visit every year. Police have a lead on the woman. The pastor doesn't think her intent was malicious, but worries about the chemical residue on fragile stone.

JEFF GARGANO: You know, has this chemical permanently destroyed these things. Will we see the evidence of destruction a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now, we just don't know.

TONY AIELLO: A GoFundMe is raising money for repair and surveillance cameras, and perhaps additional signage reminding people not to take headstone rubbings or impressions. In Sleepy Hollow, there's plenty of places to buy headless horseman souvenirs. Tony Aiello, CBS2 News.

MAURICE DUBOIS: And late today, we learned that the woman who is from Ohio told the police she used a modeling clay to make impressions of the headstone, but didn't believe it would damage the stone. Police are evaluating whether charges are appropriate.