As far as Douglas County Sheriff Loren Anderson is concerned, a ``gateway to Hell'' west of Lawrence will be closed on Halloween.
According to local folklore, a former church at the Stull Cemetery is haunted and the devil visits it on Halloween. Every Halloween, Anderson makes sure the cemetery, just off Douglas County Road 442, is off limits to thrill-seekers.
Wednesday morning, three teen-agers who got a jump on the holiday were arrested for criminal trespassing at the cemetery.
Anderson said that when a sheriff's deputy drove by the area about 5 a.m. Wednesday, he saw a gate on the fence surrounding the cemetery open. The fence is clearly marked with ``no trespassing'' signs.
Nicholas Duane Cairns, Silver Lake; Joe Edward Lopez, Ozawkie, and Jason Michael Reid, Silver Lake, were booked Wednesday morning into the Douglas County Jail. The three are all 18 years old.
The suspects were released on their own recognizance, pending an Oct. 28 hearing, where a judge will set their trial date.
Only the sides of the 132-year-old building stand, and officials have cited safety concerns in keeping trespassers off the property.
Anderson said vandals have also frequented the cemetery in the past.
``We've had headstones tipped over, broken and spray-painted,'' Anderson said. ``Yes, we do have people guarding it (on Halloween), and have done so as long as I've been in the business.''
-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.