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Jewish community gets closure after man confesses to cemetery vandalism, but offer no ‘forgiveness’

UNIVERSITY CITY, MO - More than a year later, there was somewhat of a closure Wednesday for many University City Jewish families.

This comes after 34-year-old, Alzado Harris of Florissant confessed to vandalizing more than a hundred headstones at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in February of last year.

Mike Minoff is one of many area Jewish families who was applauding law enforcement for catching and charging the man and bringing justice.

“It’s the closure that we are all relieved that it’s over,” Minoff.

Headstones of his buried loved ones didn’t sustain any damage but Minoff said that he remembers from over a year ago just how emotional it was for families dealing with the unthinkable crime.

“We are one community, we are united and if you mess with one of us you mess with all of us,” he said.

Law enforcement used DNA evidence to prove that Harris was the suspect.

Harris confessed to the crime Tuesday, telling police that he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol and angry about a personal matter.

“One of the items we located that we seized as evidence was the item that we were able to get a DNA hit on that was underneath the tombstone,” said Captain Frederick Lemons II.

Prosecutors had been working on the case non-stop.

“Generally, it’s kids that are doing something stupid,” said St. Louis County Prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, “but this was an adult doing something really stupid but at this point, it doesn’t look like it was motivated by anti-Semitic feelings.”

The U-City Jewish community said that even though justice has been served, it was still a crime that not only hurt them but disrespected their buried loved ones.

“Think long and hard,” said Anita Feigenbaum, executive director for the cemetery. “What you did, it was tearful and horrible for the families.”

“No forgiveness,” said Minoff, “you messed with the most innocent victim you could possibly mess with, someone who can’t fight back and doesn’t have a voice and we have to be the voice of those who are buried.”

Feigenbaum said that since the vandalism, the cemetery has installed surveillance cameras, added more lighting and increased its security.

Harris is currently being held on $20,000 bond.