Families sue after cemetery loses track of loved one’s bodies
Several families are suing a southwest Charlotte cemetery, because they can’t find their loved ones who were buried at the site.
Channel 9 has followed the issues at York Memorial Park cemetery off South Tryon Street since 2013.
This has been an emotional gut punch for these families going back years and even decades.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Action 9: Local cemetery buries person in wrong plot
Jacqueline Allison lost her sister Vanessa Mack in 1994. Mack was one of the 10 victims of serial killer Henry Louis Wallace.
Decades after Mack was laid to rest at York Memorial Park, Allison doesn’t know for sure where her sister is buried.
“I’m like, ‘How do you lose a dead person, what do you mean?’ They say we don’t know where she is,” Allison told Channel 9′s Glenn Counts. “I actually would like to know where my sister is.”
Attorney Pamela Hunter has been wrestling with the cemetery for years. Today, she joined the legal team filing a lawsuit on behalf of families, including Mack’s.
“Through the years, we always knew there were problems at the cemetery and about a year to two years ago we received information from former employees,” Hunter said.
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That legal action gained traction when those employees came forward with documentation alleging the mishandling. They say sloppy recordkeeping allowed York Memorial to lose track of the bodies.
Kay Morrison-Sanders worked at York Memorial for nearly a decade.
“I was forced to lie to these families, I was forced to say we know where this body is, I was there when they put the wrong headstone on an empty grave,” Morrison-Sanders told Channel 9.
She says she’s sorry for that and also says that she was a victim of the cemetery’s failures.
Morrison-Sander’s mother died when she was young. The women was buried at York Memorial, and Morrison Sander’s says she is one of the graves that have never been found.
“The hardest part is I don’t have a place to go to mourn,” she said.
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Hunter hopes that it can give some peace to the families hurt by York Memorial’s actions.
“The whole purpose of our cemetery plots, as we know, is to maintain family legacy so that years later, your descendants can come and know where their loved ones that were here before them are buried,” she said. “We just want to make sure that these families have the same opportunities as so many of us.”
One of the most disturbing aspects of the lawsuit is an accusation that the cemetery stacked bodies on top of each other, including babies. According to the litigation, the cemetery was “burying babies on top of each other over a period of years, to the extent that an area of the cemetery is commonly referred to among workers as ‘the hill of babies.’”
Channel 9 has reached out to York Memorial for a comment on the lawsuit, but we have not heard back.
>>> Tonight at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., we’ll speak with one of the former employees who blew the whistle on the cemetery.
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