Grave error: Rhode Island cemetery puts men in wrong plots

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island cemetery buried two men in the wrong plots, and now officials are trying to broker a solution. One family wants their loved one to stay where he is, while the other wants him put in the grave site they picked.

The problem started in October, when a 65-year-old man was placed in the wrong family plot at Pocasset Hill Cemetery in Tiverton. No one noticed until March, when an 87-year-old man who was supposed to be buried there died. Ron Helger, superintendent of the cemetery, told The Newport Daily News he realized what happened the day before the funeral, as he arrived to dig the grave.

The 87-year-old was then buried in the other man’s plot, which is about 10 yards away from his family plot. Each plot had room for four graves, and both men were the first to be buried in the plots.

“You’ve got to put him somewhere,” Anne Turcotte, chairwoman of the town cemetery commission, said when asked why he was buried in the other man’s plot. “You cannot put him with the man who’s in another grave.”

It was not clear when the 87-year-old’s family became aware of the switch and whether it was before or after he was buried. City officials were not sure and would not release the names of the people involved. Helger did not return a message left at a phone listing under his name.

Turcotte calls it an honest mistake and says there’s an easy fix: switch the deeds for plots that she says are nearly identical.

But the 87-year-old’s family does not want that; they want him exhumed and buried in the plot they picked, Turcotte said. Meanwhile, the other man’s family wants him kept in what they thought would be his final resting place when they buried him in October.

Turcotte said moving the bodies would be “ridiculous.”

“The other family is really upset. You know what I say? Let those poor men rest in peace. They’re about three graves away from each other,” Turcotte said.

Town Solicitor Anthony DeSisto said the town is working on an agreement to exhume the bodies so that “the deceased should be placed in their rightful burial areas.”

“We’re hopeful that we get an agreement,” he said. “But that hasn’t been achieved yet.”

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