Bodies buried in the wrong spots at historic Florida cemetery, city working to make things right

LAKE HELEN, Fla. - The Lake Helen-Cassadaga cemetery is a Volusia County landmark, but the families who have loved ones buried there, feel like they've been forgotten. The headstone could say one name, but someone completely different could be buried there.

Summer Bundy was taking care of her family's plot in the cemetery. She said it took her relatives a long time to find her uncle's grave. "I kind of decided to grab a big stick and I came to the side of this grave and poked down into the ground to feel for the stone."

She says they eventually found it, buried under a layer of grass and dirt. "We just had to uncover all of it, and there's still chunks, like old chunks from when we pulled it up and cleaned it," she said.

The Lake Helen-Cassadaga cemetery has two sections. Summer's family plot is on the new side, where people are still being buried. There's also a historic side with graves dating back to the 1800's. City Commissioner Roger Eckert said there weren't accurate records of either side.

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He showed three different maps of the cemetery, each from a different era. Much of the information was conflicting. "There's a lot of confusion even in those on who owns what plot, and some of the areas they're not even sure if the people were put in the right spots, or not," he said.

Eckert said the city had recently used underground radar to locate forgotten remains. He said the next step was working with companies that could put all the old records into a modern system. "To find out exactly where people are, who owns the plots, who's actually buried in the plot."

There are two other historic cemeteries in the area that are controlled by the county.

City officials said they were trying to re-annex them to get them back under city administration. Bundy said it was good that the city was setting things right. "I am happy, because the last couple of days I have been out, I've noticed that there has been a crew out here trying to clean up."