SCHENECTADY — Three people passing through Vale Cemetery over the summer helped police identify the man accused of vandalizing a monument, authorities said.
City police this past week arrested Henry J. Tucker, 43, of Plattsburgh, and charged him with felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor cemetery desecration.
He was arraigned and later released on $5,000 bond.
Tucker is accused of scratching a word onto the a monument's stone cross the afternoon of July 7 and damaging it, according to court documents.
The three witnesses went to police after encountering Tucker in the act of vandalism, prosecutor William Sanderson said.
"They're cutting through the cemetery and they see the guy carving something into the gravestone," Sanderson said.
They went over to speak with him and find out exactly what he was doing. One witness even turned on his cellphone's camera and surreptitiously videotaped the conversation, capturing the audio as he held the camera at his side, Sanderson said.
The witnesses say the man admitted to carving into the stone, describing himself as a rapper and mentioning his YouTube channel, Sanderson said. He described the word he scratched as his rap name.
The man then left in a minivan, Sanderson said. The witnesses took down his license plate and handed their information over to police. They arrested Tucker Tuesday.
The monument is a relatively large one honoring Hinsdill Parsons, who died in 1912, and his wife Jessie Burchard, who died in 1951.
Parsons was a General Electric executive and an Albany Law School graduate who served as general counsel starting in 1894 and later as vice president starting in 1901, according to a University at Albany online biography. He died in an April 1912 car accident.
The monument has been defaced by other scratching vandalism not attributed to Tucker.
The cemetery received a repair estimate of at least $1,500.
Bernie McEvoy, president of the Vale board, this week said the cemetery has a standing $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of vandals. The witnesses would be in line for that, he said.
"I just think it's tragic," he said of the damage. "It's a place of respect."