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Home | News | UPDATE: EP411 issues statement on ‘La Isla’ incident; EPCSO estimates damage at $125k

UPDATE: EP411 issues statement on ‘La Isla’ incident; EPCSO estimates damage at $125k

El Paso 411, the website Fabens-area residents say contributed to the destruction of headstones and memorials at La Isla Cemetery, issued a statement Monday afternoon, clarifying their role in the event and how they worked with officials after being alerted to the false urban legend they printed.

In the statement (full statement is reprinted at the bottom of this article) they list the steps they’ve taken to assist authorities in light of the vandalism and encourage people to donate to restoration of the graveyard.

In an official release, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the entire vandalism event, and say the damage at the cemetery was estimated to be $125,000. They ask anyone with information regarding this incident or the identity of the offenders; please contact the Sheriff’s Office at 915-538-2229.

Also, a GoFund Me account has been set up for those wishing to donate: https://www.gofundme.com/yjap4q4k

+++previous story: New Statements at the bottom

Lower Valley residents are heartbroken and outraged after La Isla Church’s Cemetery, located near Fabens, was vandalized this weekend, leaving nearly every grave marker damaged.

Residents first learned of the destruction early Sunday morning, as social media posts and photos revealed the damage caused by vandals sometime overnight Saturday.

The cemetery and small chapel were the subject of a controversial article published the week prior to Halloween, and now residents are pointing to that very article as the cause of the destruction.

la isla 2First published as a part of a five part series known as ‘Haunted El Paso‘ on the website elpaso411, the initial article noted that a “priest went insane and killed the nuns and children living at the church.”  The article goes on to state that the entire area had been abandoned.

Due to the urban legend, which residents say is 100% false, landowners and families have had to spend money and time repairing damaged graves, as well as boarding up the small chapel and erecting a fence to prevent thrill-seekers from further damaging the grounds.

After an outcry from Fabens-area residents, the original article was modified, removing the map to the location of the church and adding the following disclaimer: “This spot may be located on private property. You may need permission to enter the property. Please DO NOT ENTER THE PROPERTY. El Paso 411 assumes no responsibility for those that decide to use this information for anything other than that.”

Sunday morning, resident Arlina Palacios – whose great-great-grandmother is buried at the site –  was one of the first to report the wide-spread vandalism.la isla 4

Via a Facebook post, Palacios said, “On my way to la Isla cemetery to file a police report. My great great grandmother Gabriela Sierra’s grave was vandalized. Many others were as well. Please go check your family plots and file the necessary report.”

Outraged Fabens residents, whose relatives are buried at the remote graveyard located between San Eli and Fabens, made their way to the graveyard to survey the damage for themselves.

“Thanks to El paso 411. People think La Isla is a haunted place to visit,” Pamela Acosta posted,  They fail to realize it’s an actual grave site where loved ones are resting.”

Facebook user Mary J. was much more blunt about the blame,  “The only evil in the la Isla cemetery is in the souls of the sub-humans who carried out these heinous acts of vandalism. The El Paso 411 Facebook page shares in the burden of guilt as it was probably their foolish post claiming that this still in use cemetery, and adjoining church, were abandoned and haunted that fueled the imbeciles desire to go out there.”

la isla 3

While the residents have their idea as to who may be responsible, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has just started their investigation, and there are no leads at the current time.

According to residents, a $500 reward has now been offered for any information on those who may have committed the vandalism.

In the meantime, residents are left to clean up the mess and try to repair the grave markers, some of which date back several decades.

One resident, Ralph Trujillo simply said, “That’s so sad [that] people can’t even show respect for the deceased…”

The Knights of Columbus Fabens Council have set up a fund to help restore the cemetery and those graves that were damaged. The following was posted to their Facebook page late Monday morning:

The Knights of Columbus Council #15799, Our Lady of Guadalupe – Fabens opened up an account for La Isla several years ago. We have been asked by members of our parish community to accept funds into our account. This money will then be used to build a fence, gates, and doors to secure the La Isla Church and Cemetery. The Knights of Columbus is a charitable organization, we can provide you with a donation letter if necessary.

The account number is GECU of El Paso #8324469, make checks payable to Knights of Columbus Council #15799. Also, in the memo section, please indicate La Isla. Please pray for the people who have committed these crimes, and pray for the families and friends affected.

VIVAT JESUS!!!!

Full statement from El Paso 411

Back in October, El Paso 411 released five articles for it’s annual #HauntedElPaso series, which featured popular Urban Legends well known in our community.

One of the stories included is the well known Urban Legend called Hole in the Wall. The story takes place at a cemetery in Fabens, Texas. Shortly after publishing the urban legend, El Paso 411 received messages of concern from nearby residents regarding vandalism that has occurred several times at the cemetery prior to the article being published.

When the article was originally published, a disclaimer was included that read “This spot may be located on private property. You may need permission to enter the property. Please DO NOT ENTER THE PROPERTY. El Paso 411 assumes no responsibility for those that decide to use this information for anything other than that.”

El Paso 411 also reached out to the El Paso County Sheriff as a courtesy to inform them that residents were concerned of vandalism and what measures our company should take to prevent it. The Sheriff informed El Paso 411 that vandalism at the cemetery (including broken tombstones, littler, graffiti) has been an issue for years and the owner has failed to provide adequate security/preventative measures to keep vandals out, even though they were aware of this crime occurring regularly.

After reviewing the messages and discussing options with the El Paso Sheriff, editors at El Paso 411 decided to remove the location of the cemetery from the article.

The Sheriff’s Department also agreed that they would patrol the area more frequently during the Halloween season.

Additionally, after editing the article, El Paso 411 attempted to work with a man that claimed to be the owner of the cemetery, however those discussions ended immediately after the man threatened the life of an El Paso 411 staff member, which resulted in a criminal complaint that is currently under investigation by the El Paso Sheriff’s Department. El Paso 411 discontinued further interaction with this man after the incident.

It is also important to note that the story of Hole in the Wall is well known in the El Paso community. Its location has been available on the internet prior to the story being featured on ElPaso411.com. Anyone can publicly search for the location and find various links within seconds. Here is an example: https://www.google.com/search?q=hole+in+the+wall+el+paso

On November 14, almost three weeks after the article was published and the location was removed, the cemetery is vandalized again. El Paso 411 sympathizes with those affected by the vandalism that occurred on Saturday night. El Paso 411 is equally frustrated as this is obviously not something that our company promotes in our community.

El Paso 411 will work with the community of Fabens to track down whomever is responsible and bring them to justice. El Paso 411 also encourages anyone with information to call the El Paso Sheriffs Department.

Members of the public can also donate to help bring security to the cemetery by stopping by any GECU and leaving a donation under account number 8324469 with “La Isla” in the Memo

About Chris Babcock

Editor in Chief: El Paso Herald-Post, horizoncity.com Chris began his long journey in Journalism back in the early 70’s. Armed with a Bell and Howell 8mm camera and tape recorder. Chris would go on to document such events as the great plastic dinosaur attack on Tornillo, GI Joe’s dramatic rescue of Barbie from a backyard mud pit and a massive toy train derailment caused by Godzilla. FULL BIO

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12 comments

  1. luvs2ribbit@yahoo.com'

    IF THEY WOULD STOP WRITING ARTICLES ON OUR CEMETERY LA ISLA THEN THE UNEDUCATED IDIOTS WOULD STOP COMING DOWN HERE DOING THIS. THANK YOU CHRIS FOR WHAT YOU DO ON BEHALF OF THE FAMILIA DE PEDRO VELARDE SIERRA, I AM HIS DAUGHTER.

  2. pblange@aldineisd.org'
    Patsie Bustamante Lange

    Thanks for the article on La Isla! We appreciate it! Keep up the good work!
    Wildcat Pride #44

  3. melissa2dodge@yahoo.com'

    Since El Paso 411 printed the FALSE article, I think El Paso 411 should pay for the clean up and up the reward by 4,500.00

  4. wilson.seth@gmail.com'

    El Paso 411 deliberately deleted all Facebook comments that asked people not to tresspass on the church grounds or called the story false. Not only did Caesar Torres encourage this, he went out of his way to make sure no one would see a dissenting opinion. Shame on him.

  5. cesco147@utep.edu'

    This is ridiculous to blame a website that made a story on an urban legend that is well known in this city. not to mention that this cemetery is a mess. el paso 411 had removed the map and location a long time ago, which they did not have to. theyre a media source just as this website is, like it or not they have every right to report what they want. there was even a disclaimer and the story is listed as “urban legend”. the owners of the cemetery should focus on maintaining their property so that it doesnt attract idiots like it has been for years.

    • cesco147@utep.edu'

      i also expect the moderator to not approve my comment since it does not reflect his personal views. crappy journalism

  6. leelou2310@hotmail.com'

    This vandalism should have never happened! Thanks, in part, to Cesar Torres for his ElPaso411 article, vandals demolished the headstones of my family members plus many other headstones. I sent an email and left a message on the phone number that was given, and even though it says someone will contact you within 24 hours, I have never been contacted. It really saddens me to think that this is what today’s youth sees as entertainment/fun. What kind of morals and values have their parents instilled in them; obviously none. Whoever is responsible for the vandlism should be made to go out to the cemetery and repair all the headstones and clean up the cemetery! I would be willing to go out and supervise this clean up.

  7. help@ghosts915.com'

    Chris. Contact me. I want to help raise funds to help prevent this from happening again. Such a travesty and lack of respect from a false claim of ghosts.

  8. fabensknight@gmail.com'

    There are many factors to blame. The school Alumni Association hosting their annual fiesta also publicized the location of La Isla. The church is also to blame for not taking care of this historic site. The church claims jurisdiction over La Isla, which is a total lie. Any of the original descendants, that are left will attest that the land was privately donated to serve the people of La Isla. A committee should be formed without the church’s involvement to govern for the better good and preservation of this historic site. No one does anything nor let’s anyone do anything either.

  9. trujillo_laura004@hotmail.com'

    What El Paso 411’s story did was add fuel to the fire. Calling it an urban legend and then “removing” the map and the location of the cemetery just intrigued people. That lame statement is nothing more than a veiled attempt to cover their posteriors. So much damage has been done and at some point those responsible will be judged. It may take time but whether on this earth or in heaven…they will be judged.

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