Controversial cemetery photos anger local families

Controversial cemetery photos anger local families »Play Video
SEATTLE -- Their headstones line up in perfect symmetry, like soldiers headed to war; but for some of those who fought for the United States, their final resting place has seen a great deal of unrest this month.

"It kind of leaves you a little bit at a loss for words, really," said Scott Sheehan, general manager at Evergreen Washelli Funeral Home and Cemetery in North Seattle. "We care for the living and the dead and in respect to that, it's a direct impact to us when somebody violates that."

Police believe someone may have violated the law by breaking into Washelli sometime earlier this month. Families say they were further violated by what happened next: A photography session at Washelli's veteran's memorial cemetery, where women were tied up in bondage situations, hung from cannons and statues, and then photographed. The pictures were then posted to a fetish website.

"Oh, good lord. That's terrible," said 88-year old Dom Chialante of West Seattle, who spent Tuesday morning tending to his family's plot, where his parents, wife, and brother-in-law are all buried. "This is a sacred area. The world is terrible today and it's getting progressively worse."

The photographer, in a statement, said his intent was for the photos to make people think.

"The title of this series is Spoils of War," wrote Patrick Andraste in a statement emailed to KOMO 4 News. "The model is Japanese American, and some of her family was interned in the relocation camps during WWII. Her grandfather was a combat vet during WWII and a long time peace activist. (She) wanted to show that the truth of our country's history is disturbing."

Seattle Police are now investigating the incident as a possible trespassing issue, said Mark Jamieson, a spokesman for the department.

Meantime, family members of some of the veterans buried near where the photos were taken have contacted Washelli, concerned with what happened, Sheehan said.

"(One woman) was distraught. She was upset emotionally. "The photos violate) just all principles that we have about the honor to this particular piece of ground," Sheehan said. "We care for the living and the dead, and, in respect to that, it's a direct impact to us when somebody violates that."