By Ryan Papaserge

Evening Tribune

HORNELL — A young boy's gravesite was vandalized recently and State Police are looking for answers.

Employees at Rural/Hope Cemetery in Hornell noticed extensive damage Friday to the gravesite of A.J. Berg, a nine-year-old child who passed away due to a congenital heart defect on June 22, 2013.

Berg's headstone was taken off of its mount and knocked to the ground, breaking several mementos Berg's family had placed around it such as a ceramic figure of a young boy.

According to Kimberly Campbell-Berg, A.J. Berg's stepmother, the headstone cost $8,000 and will be difficult for the family to replace.

"I have seen the lowest someone can go," Campbell-Berg posted on her Facebook account Friday in a post that had received over 2,100 shares. "So many people worked hard helping us to get this beautiful headstone for this little boy."

The extent of the damage caused by the headstone is unknown at this time due to its weight. It featured an engraved image of A.J. with his younger brother Tyler as well as a deck of playing cards — he enjoyed playing card games. A PlayStation controller remains intact adjacent to where the headstone would be.

In addition to the headstone, a mailbox that held a memory book was uprooted from the ground with the book removed from it.

"It was all we had," Campbell-Berg posted on Facebook, "all the private notes."
Several plants that were placed around Berg's grave were either tossed to the nearby woods or knocked to the ground.

Berg had completed third grade at Bryant School in Hornell prior to his passing and was beloved by his family.

"He was the most lovable and intelligent child you would ever want to meet," his obituary read. "He put a smile on anyone's face."

Attempts to contact the North Hornell-based State Police on Saturday were unsuccessful.

Anyone with information on who caused the damage is encouraged to call the North Hornell-based State Police at (607) 324-3038 or the Wayland-based State Police at (585) 728-5758.