Sisters discover mother buried in wrong gravesite after 20 years of visiting stranger's headstone
Two Queens women are suing a New Jersey cemetery after learning their mother was buried in a different grave from the plot they have been visiting for the past 20 years.
Evelyn Edwards and her sister Hortense purchased a plot for three interments from Rosehill Cemetery in January 1990 after their 68-year-old mother, Beatrice Williams, died.
The sisters intended to be buried along with their mother in Grave No. 103, Row 20, Section 52 when they, too, passed away, according to the $25 million suit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.
They visited the gravesite in Linden more than 100 times over the years, including every Mother's Day and on May 3, which was their mother's birthday, the suit states.
Last summer, when the sisters complained that the gravesite had fallen into disrepair, a cemetery employee looked up the file and informed them that the body of a man occupies Grave No. 103 and that their beloved mother was actually buried about 90 feet away in Grave No. 132 in the same row.
"The only thing that is certain is their mother is buried in Rosehill Cemetery," said lawyer Stephen Drummond, who filed the breach-of-contract suit.
"What they want to know more than anything else is to find out where their mother is actually buried," he said.
The cemetery, which did not return a call seeking comment on the mixup, sent Evelyn Edwards, 53, a "casket verification release" form last year to have Grave No. 132 excavated so that she and the funeral director could look into the open hole and visually inspect the coffin - without opening the lid - to verify that it was her mother's coffin.
The release also stipulated that Edwards would be "solely responsible" for any injuries suffered by the gravediggers or any damage to the coffin in the process, according to the document that Drummond provided to the Daily News.
"I further understand that if the casket or container is opened by the funeral director, any claims which I may have arising out of the appearance of the human remains, I hereby release against the cemetery," the document states.
Drummond said their mother's plot came with a small plaque bearing her name, but the sisters do not know who removed the plaque.
There are seven Beatrice Williamses buried at Rosehill Cemetery, according to its website, including the one in Grave No. 132. Both graves in question are currently topped with blank cement slabs listing only the grave, row and section.
"We've been trying to keep the matter quiet so that another family doesn't have to go through the pain and suffering that [the Edwards] have," Drummond said yesterday.