MIAMI (CBS4) – A Miami-Dade woman who had planned a special visit to her husband’s gravesite on Valentine’s Day says she made a truly disturbing discovery: her husband’s gravestone was missing and she wondered if his body was still there.
“I was devastated,” said Joyce Gary in a CBS4 Exclusive. “I couldn’t imagine something like that would happen.”
Gary told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that Valentine’s Day was going to a special day. She had planned a visit to her husband’s gravesite with her son.
Gary had been visiting the gravesite at Dade Memorial Park at Northwest 13th Avenue and Opa-Locka Boulevard for the past four years since her husband died at the age of 62.
“It just should not happen,” she said. This should not happen to anyone. It’s devastating. The pain you go through when you lose a loved one is enough and all of a sudden you go to the cemetery and find that your loved one is not buried there. It’s devastating.”
“I came here with my son who lives in Tampa. His name is Jordan,” she said. “We came here to place flowers on his grave and when I came here the marker was no longer in the place where he was buried.”
She spoke to the cemetery managers.
“They’re telling me the marker was in the wrong place for four years,” she said. “So in other words we’ve been coming to the wrong place. My husband was buried somewhere else, which is right next to where the marker was placed.”
She says she was told he was buried in the plot to the left of where she thought he was.
“I’m not so sure about that,” she said, “because I was lead to believe that he was buried in this place.”
Gary last visited her husband’s gravesite in late summer. On Valentine’s Day, she discovered new sod at the site because another person had been buried there. So there is now a marker for someone else.
A spokeswoman for the cemetery’s corporate office told D’Oench that out of respect for the privacy of families they serve, she could not answer specific questions.
But she said, “We have strict policies and procedures in place. And our associates undergo thorough training to ensure that mistakes are not made. However, occasional mistakes do happen and when that occurs, we have a policy of disclosure to the family and we work with the families to come to a resolution.”
Gary says the cemetery told her that she was sent a letter last September about the situation but says she never received it. The corporation could not show us the letter.
“What’s important is that you should really come to the cemetery often to visit your loved ones,” Gary said. “That’s very important and also, that cemeteries should not conduct business in that manner. I should have been notified when they decided to move my husband’s marker.”
Gary told D’Oench that she and her husband had been married for more than 30 years.
D’Oench reported that she was so upset that she nearly fainted during the interview and actually had to leave the cemetery because she was feeling ill.
Right now, she says she just wants to sort this out and see that her husband’s gravestone is in the proper spot.