Family Fears Theft After Headstone Misplaced - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/11/06

Family Fears Theft After Headstone Misplaced

Dale Canterbury at the site of his father's grave. Dale Canterbury at the site of his father's grave.
A Savannah man says his family bought a gravestone with his father's military accomplishments on it. He went to visit the site yesterday and the gravestone wasn't there. At first, the family thought someone stole it.

They watched WTOC last night and saw our story about thieves at Gravel Hill Cemetery in Bloomingdale (Thieves Targeting Cemetery). When they went to Hillcrest Abbey and their brand-new gravestone and plaque were gone, they assumed the worst.

Keep in mind, this was the first time they had visited the gravesite since they were told the stone was in place. "My brothers and I pitched our money together and got a granite and the military sent his plaque, a bronze plaque," Dale Canterbury told us. "I got here, and my heart was broken. Someone stole it off the property. It broke my heart."

Canterbury assumed the worst and reported the problem to cemetery officials. "They told me they didn't know what happened," he said. "There were no fresh graves and they didn't know what happened."

Cemetery officials say the last grave put in nearby was on December 14, 2005.

We spoke to Depue Monuments. They say the gravestone was put in on March 30. It weighed 400 pounds and would take a few people to move. They even sent pictures to prove it.

"I saw the pictures," said Canterbury. They showed the marker in the ground.

And so the mystery continued. Next stop, Hillcrest Abbey Cemetery's director, Willie Harris. Harris wouldn't go on camera, and insisted his crews did not touch the gravestone, but he would investigate.

"He's a little upset we brought WTOC," said Canterbury. "But we feel WTOC will help us get to the bottom of what's going on here."

And here is what happened. Apparently, the cemetery claims Depue Monuments placed the gravestone in the wrong part of the cemetery, not where they had marked.

Hillcrest Abbey says it is now making its policy more strict and monument companies will now have to report to their office and be physically shown where they are to place headstones and gravestones, so this kind of mistake does not happen again.

We won't know for sure where the gravestone actually is until tomorrow, when the monument company meets with the cemetery.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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