Teen Charged In Vandalism Of Tombstones

Nov 16, 2012

Afdal Azam Ali Leach, 19, pushed over more than 80 tombstones in Oakwood Cemetery in Concord, causing more than $25,000 in damage.
Credit Concord Police Department

City workers in Concord say they were really creeped out on Thursday morning.

At 11:30, a city employee who helps care for the Oakwood cemetery noticed something really strange. A teenager was pushing over tombstones in the furthest section of the 44-acre cemetery. The employee immediately called police.

David Ratchford is the city of Concord's director of building and grounds. He looks after Oakwood, which is one of the city's four cemeteries.

"This is just shocking, we've never had this level of vandalism," Ratchford says.

Police say a 19-year-old male, Afdal Azam Ali Leach, whose last known address was in Kannapolis pushed over 81 tombstones, broke vases, chopped up flowers and ripped flags. The damage so far is estimated to be between $25,000 to $30,000.   

Concord police say they do not know what motivated him, but they are still working on documenting all of the damage and helping the cemetery notify families.

Ratchford says that when police arrived, Leach continued to turn over headstones and had to pull out a rifle before getting him to stop. The tombstones were some of the most recent.  

"It's especially sad because these are families that probably still living. These are people that are probably recently deceased," Ratchford says. "So they're going to have to deal with this right here at the holidays of having to come up and deal with this damage."

Leach was arrested and is currently in custody at Cabarrus County Jail. He is charged with one felony of desecrating a grave, and two misdemeanors of carrying concealed weapons and obstructing a police officer.

At the police department it took two hours before Leach finally told police his name. They found a hammer, an axe, a machete, knife and a dagger tied to a rope on him.