Metro

Hyde Park woman charged with eight counts of vandalism at Mount Hope Cemetery

The entrance to the Army/Navy monument at Mount Hope Cemetery was vandalized last month.
Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff/File
The entrance to the Army/Navy monument at Mount Hope Cemetery was vandalized last month.

A 53-year-old Hyde Park woman is facing a slew of criminal charges for multiple acts of vandalism at Mount Hope Cemetery in Mattapan, including the desecration last month of a memorial to fallen police officers, authorities said.

In a statement, Boston police identified the suspect as Deborah Gideon, who was apprehended inside the cemetery Thursday after allegedly trying to vandalize a grave.

According to Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins’s office, Gideon faces “eight counts of vandalizing a memorial for damage discovered on March 19” at the cemetery.

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Last month, memorials to veterans of World War I and World War II also were desecrated at the city-owned cemetery, along with others erected to fallen officers, veterans of the Civil War, the Spanish American War, the Knights of Columbus, and the Free Masons, according to police.

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Gideon was acting strangely before she was nabbed Thursday, a police statement said.

“At about 4:45 PM, on Thursday, April 18, 2019, officers assigned to District E-18 (Hyde Park), while in the area of 19 Millstone Street, observed Deborah Gideon, 53, of Hyde Park, toss what appeared to be red powder in the air and into the street,” the statement said.

Police tailed her vehicle to the cemetery, where she allegedly exhibited more suspicious behavior.

The Boston Police Relief memorial was stained at Mount Hope Cemetery.
Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff
The Boston Police Relief memorial was stained at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Detectives, police said, “observed her exit her motor vehicle, approach some headstones and make a tossing motion with her hand. Gideon got back into her motor vehicle and drove further into the cemetery where officers initiated a traffic stop.”

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When officers approached her car, “They observed a spray bottle in the front passenger side, a gallon of a reddish liquid, containers of various colored salt, [powdered] juice mixes, and olive oil,” police said.

Gideon was arraigned Friday in West Roxbury Municipal Court, where a not-guilty plea was entered on her behalf. She was sent to a medical facility for a 20-day mental health evaluation, and bail arguments “will be made during a scheduled court appearance on May 8,” Rollins’s office said.

A memorial honoring members of the Boston police was vandalized in Mount Hope Cemetery in Mattapan.
Lane Turner/Globe Staff/File 2019
A memorial honoring members of the Boston police was vandalized in Mount Hope Cemetery in Mattapan.

A psychologist who examined her told the court the suspect is “bright, articulate” with “no reported mental health or substance abuse.” Gideon has worked as a nurse for 20 years, the psychologist said.

Gideon told the psychologist the charges amounted to “religious persecution” and that she doesn’t think she can get a fair trial, owing to “Christian persecution,” the psychologist said.

“Her rational understanding may be impaired,” the psychologist said.

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Three statues at Catholic churches in Hyde Park and Dorchester also have been vandalized recently, as well as a World War II memorial on Castle Island. The church statues were damaged with some type of red substance.

Police said the church and Castle Island cases remain under investigation.

Emily Sweeney of the Globe Staff and Globe correspondent Alyssa Meyers contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Sabrina Schnur can be reached at sabrina.schnur @globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sabrina_schnur.