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City officer's grave defaced

| Thursday, June 25, 2009, 12:00 p.m.

Frances Kelly said her son rarely got any rest while alive because of his dangerous job as a city policeman. Now, she says, vandals won't let him rest in peace.

Her son, Pittsburgh police Officer Eric G. Kelly, and fellow officers Stephen J. Mayhle and Paul J. Sciullo II were gunned down when they responded to a domestic disturbance April 4 in Stanton Heights.

Not long after the funeral, vandals began desecrating Kelly's grave in Allegheny Cemetery in Lawrenceville, she said.

"It makes me so sad. He didn't get much peace because of his job. Now, he's passed, they took his life and they won't leave him in peace."

Frances Kelly, who visits the grave at least twice a week with her daughter, Danyelle Kelly Cheatham, said vandals first struck about three weeks after her 41-year-old son died when flowers she planted at his grave were cut.

"I planted roses on each side; they used scissors to cut them."

Soon after, vandals began tossing stands with wreaths across the cemetery as well as a small stuffed animal with balloons that his granddaughter left.

"I planted flowers at the foot of the grave. They pulled those up. They ripped up two flags I put there. Someone put dog poop on the grave," Frances Kelly said Wednesday night, sobbing.

Kelly said she's having a hard time coping with her son's death. This makes it worse.

"It's like going through the trauma over and over and over and over. I don't have a healing process. It's not right. Every time I go there, it drains me. I'm crying and I'm sad. I can't get over the fact he's passed. I can't get over the way he passed. It's just not right."

Frances Kelly said it appears the vandalism has ceased since she reported it Saturday when she returned to town after the funeral of her brother.

City police now are patrolling the area, trying to catch anyone responsible, she said.

She said the vandals won't stop her from beautifying her son's grave and keeping his memory alive.

"They keep messing with him, but it won't stop me."

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