Loved ones' gravesite mementos trashed without notice, families say



Families are furious with Lakeland Memorial Park in Monroe, claiming knick-knacks and other mementos were removed from grave markers without any notification.

Some trinkets even dated back to the 1990s.

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Families were left to dig through dozens of items left on tarps in the back of the cemetery near a dumpster. Among those items there were headless angels, dozens of American flags, miniature bibles and other mementos.



Shannon Hilton, whose mother was buried in 1999, said she found a clay angel from her mother's grave sitting near a dumpster in the back of the cemetery instead of sitting next to her mother’s headstone.

"The most disrespectful thing out here are all the flags,” Hilton said.

She found the angel broken and in the trash on Sunday.

"Now, as you can see, she's missing her nose and her mouth,” Hilton said.

Ellen Jackson, whose son was buried at the site in 2015, said she found a butterfly, a small helmet and other items that were on his headstone among dozens of other items that were laid out on a tarp.

"I can't buy him a birthday present tomorrow,” Jackson said. “All I can do is leave a trinket on his headstone. This is my child. This is all I have of Willie."

Family members claim that no one contacted them before removing their items.

"They could have sent a letter, they could have made a phone call,” Hilton said. “I would have gladly got my stuff, rather than this."

WSOC has reached out to the cemetery to ask about any policy changes and to find out if families were notified.

An employee promised the manager would return our calls.

"Look around, there are thousands of stories out here,” Hilton said.

Several families picked up some of their items, but they said they are waiting to hear back from the people in charge to see how they'll be handling this moving forward.