Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Michael Shepherd firstname.lastname@example.org
MONMOUTH — Charges haven't moved forward in the case of a Winthrop mother and her daughter who police say recklessly damaged headstones in a town cemetery with cars on Friday, but the pair is expected to be prosecuted.
Police say Melissa Grant, 42, and Savannah Lowe, 20, both of Winthrop, caused an estimated $35,000 of damage to headstones in Monmouth Ridge Cemetery on Friday.
Staff file photo by Michael Shepherd
After a Friday evening incident in Monmouth Ridge Cemetery off Cemetery Road, Melissa Grant, 42, and her daughter, Savannah Lowe, 20, were arrested on a combined seven charges and spent the weekend in jail.
Monmouth police Chief Kevin Mulherin said Lowe tried to keep Grant from leaving the cemetery by hitting the mother's vehicle with her vehicle because Lowe believed Grant was intoxicated, though Mulherin said police couldn't prove that and didn't charge her for it.
Grant then retaliated by hitting Lowe's car with her car.
Grant drew five charges: aggravated criminal mischief, aggravated reckless conduct, operating while her license was suspended or revoked, operating a vehicle without a license and leaving the scene of an accident. Lowe was charged with aggravated criminal mischief and aggravated reckless conduct.
The office of Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney later pulled back those charges.
The two aren't off the hook, however. Maloney said today that charges will be brought again once the office gets more information from Monmouth police.
Police estimated that the women caused $35,000 worth of damage to gravestones, one of which was that of a woman who died in 1843.
Grant denied the police account in an interview today, saying Lowe's foot got stuck on her vehicle's accelerator and smashed into her car, damaging the stones in the process.
Grant said there was never a dispute between her and her daughter and she feels "absolutely horrible" about damaging stones in the cemetery, where her father is buried.
"My family's buried there, for goodness' sakes," she said. "I feel just as sick to my stomach about this as I'm sure everybody else does."
Grant said she is working with her insurance company to pay for the damage to the headstones. When asked if she was intoxicated, she replied that she was never charged with driving under the influence.
As of this afternoon, Michael Cyr, treasurer of the town's cemetery association, which controls 13 cemeteries in the town, hadn't heard of those plans. He said the estimated $35,000 in damage is more than double the association's annual budget.
Cyr, who has been on the cemetery board since the 1970s, said he has seen small car accidents in the cemetery before involving cars bumping into stones, but nothing like the Friday incident.
"(Whether) it was insanity or drunkenness or what, I don't know," he said.
Records from the Kennebec County jail say Grant and Lowe both were taken to jail late Friday and got out Monday afternoon. Grant was held in lieu of $10,000 bail; Lowe, $5,000.
Capt. Marsha Alexander, jail administrator, said the two were released after a court appearance Monday after Maloney's office declined to proceed with charges.
But Maloney said her office will bring charges after getting a supplemental report from Monmouth police to ensure the charges fit the case.
"We are going to bring charges, but I can't say at this point who the charges will be against or what they will be," she said.
Charges would be a comfort to Cyr, who called the accident "craziness."
"Somebody who did what they did should be charged," Cyr said. "It was no accident."
Michael Shepherd — 370-7652