Cedar stolen from cemetery: Police identify suspect, find missing tree top

Deputy Police Chief John Davis said Friday the tree top was located, and police had a suspect.

A 20-foot cedar tree was found Thursday, Dec, 2, 2021, in Evergreen Cemetery in Brainerd after being cut down the previous night. As of Friday, police had found the top of the tree that was missing and identified a suspect. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

During a routine drive through Brainerd’s Evergreen Cemetery Thursday, Dec. 2, Dede Tollefson noticed what appeared to be an out-of-place overgrown bush.

On further inspection, though, Tollefson, the cemetery’s executive director, found the item to be the remnants of a 20-foot cedar tree cut down the night before.

“I got out, and I looked to check the stump and make sure there was no damage to any of the monuments, and you could clearly see, someone had taken a chain saw and cut it down,” Tollefson said Thursday. “And then I walked around to the tip of the tree, and then there was another piece that they had cut off of the tree.”

About 12-14 feet of the cedar was left, with the top part presumably taken to be used as a Christmas tree.

“It’s pretty unfortunate this time of year that people are stooping to that level,” Tollefson said.


While the cemetery is open to the public, it is private property. This occurrence is a blow to the nonprofit that is already struggling financially.

“It’s hard to stomach this stuff when there’s no funds to replace a tree of that size. And just the integrity of the cemetery, just how beautiful it is and that people feel that it’s OK to go in and damage something like that. It’s unfortunate, especially this time of year.”

There is, however, one glimmer of good news.

Deputy Police Chief John Davis said Friday the tree top was located, and police had a suspect.

While Davis did not give many details, as the case is still active, he said investigative work led police to the tree and suspect.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .
Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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