New York

NYPD Investigates Mausoleum Break-In at Woodlawn Cemetery

Police are investigating a mausoleum break-in at a Bronx cemetery where some of New York's most famous figures are buried. 

Police say six caskets were removed from their slots inside a mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in Woodlawn Heights Tuesday afternoon.

One of the caskets was moved to the center of mausoleum and pried open. It's possible some of the bones may be missing, police say, but they won't know for sure until the medical examiner inspects it Wednesday.

Photos show some of the damaged caskets, including a rusty one with its top pried off. A photo inside the mausoleums shows a ravaged shelf where one of the caskets had been. 

It's not yet clear if anything else was taken. 

One of the caskets that was moved predates the 1940s; another was placed there as recently as a few years ago. 

A woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, told News 4 her grandparents' and great grandparents' graves were among those smashed open. She said she believes the vandals didn't break into her parents' caskets because they were newer and better secured. 

She said her family heard the break-in may be related to a cult ritual surrounding the recent solar eclipse; the NYPD has mentioned no link to a cult. 

Security personnel noticed the mausoleum door was ajar Tuesday morning — hours before the rare eclipse — but the timing as to when it was tampered with remains unclear. 

A message has been left with the cemetery. 

Woodlawn Cemetery is a designated National Historic Landmark, and has over 1,300 mausoleums over 400 acres. Over 300,000 people are buried there, including notable people like Robert Moses, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis. 

Last week, dozens of headstones were overturned and vandalized at the Cypress Hill Cemetery along the Brooklyn-Queens border. Police are still looking for the three teen vandals in the case. 

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