Rumors make flag incident volatile, sheriff reports

Marion County and the city of Peabody became victims of rumor and misinformation after blog postings and Facebook entries were showing up following the flag vandalism at Prairie Lawn Cemetery on Memorial weekend.

Marion County Sheriff Rob Craft said his office started its investigation one to two days after the incident, but it couldn?t keep up with all the unreliable online content.

Although no one has been arrested in connection with the vandalism, Craft said the investigation is progressing.

?We have a deputy assigned full-time to this case,? he said.

As for arrests, Craft wouldn?t offer details, but said they are getting close to identifying more than one suspect, but far less than the 12 suspects rumored on Internet sites.

The facts surrounding the vandalism, he said, were that sometime between Friday night and early Saturday morning, May 28-29, damage was done to nine American flags at the cemetery outside the city limits of Peabody.

The vandalism was first reported Saturday morning when the cemetery groundskeeper discovered the damage.

?The Avenue of Flags at the cemetery is very nice looking,? Craft said, ?and some of these flags were burial flags.?

Not long after the incident, rumors began circulating, and one Peabody man, using the Internet began posting what he had heard.

The unreliable information spread nationwide, Craft said, and it wasn?t long before radio and television stations were joining in the misleading arguments.

During the Marion County Commissioner?s meeting Monday, Craft talked about the situation and was disappointed with the irresponsibility of those involved.

Some of the rumors were so far from the truth that Craft said he believes the only thing this misinformation accomplished was in giving Marion County and the city of Peabody a black eye.

Craft said when arrests are made, his office will be releasing a statement, but until then, he said he had no further comments.

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