Minutes Before Funeral, Metro Family Finds Out Burial Plot Already Taken

Friday, April 22nd 2016, 2:19 pm
By: News 9

It was 20 minutes before the funeral when a family got a call from Trice Hill Cemetery.

Barbara Wilson said, “First words she said was, ‘Aunt Barbara, there’s a body in my mama’s place and they just called me.’”

Wilson said the whole family was outraged, especially her niece Tezlyn Figaro, who just lost her mother and was on her way to the funeral.

Pipina Figaro-Smith bought three plots before she passed away in late-March. The plots were for her mother, her daughter and herself and it was right next to her aunt and uncle’s gravesites. Because of the error at Trice Hill Cemetery, Figaro-Smith is now buried on the other side of the cemetery next to strangers.

Wilson said, “It just kind of snowballed from there.”

The situation got worse when Tezlyn called the cemetery to sort things out.

"She said, ‘Aunt Barbara, they told me Uncle Lester’s headstone is in the wrong spot.’ I said, ‘Well if it’s in the wrong spot, where is my husband?’” said Wilson.

For the past four years, Wilson has been laying flowers and visiting her husband’s grave. Now she doesn’t know where his body really is.

John Bilbury, a board member of Trice Hill Cemetery, said, “We took over the board in 2013 and we’ve had some problems with grave locations.”

He said it happened with previous management, but the new board is trying to resolve the problems. They are using radar technology to see if graves are lined up with coffins and are working with families. Bilbury said it is hard to fix the problems though because the cemetery has no money.

For Figaro-Smith’s family, the situation seems like it is only getting worse. On Friday, they found Pipina’s grave looking like a sink hole.

Her sister-in-law Ella Scott asked, “Why is it like this?”

Bilbury didn’t know the answer but told her he would find out.

Figaro-Smith’s daughter, Tezlyn, tells News 9 she is going to file a civil lawsuit against Trice Hill Cemetery.