More react to Restlawn Cemetery

By Ashley Harding - Reporter , Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - More families are learning that as many as 2,000 bodies may have to be exhumed amidst allegations that they were improperly buried over the site of an old roadway.

Channel 4 reported on Friday that the new owner that assumed ownership last October is working with these families. He says he's trying to make things right.

For one Jacksonville woman, the news of these latest problems comes as no surprise.

Channel 4 did a story with Helen Todd in 2012. She told us she had many problems with Restlawn in trying to locate her parents' missing grave maker.

Todd says she wasn't surprised when she heard this latest controversy. She does say though, with a new owner, she's hopeful.

"I think it is a very, very sad thing," Todd said. "Sad to have to see your loved one pulled back up, exhumed and moved."

Todd buried her parents at Restlawn in the 1970s. She says after a visit in 2012, she was shocked to see the area in disarray.

To make matters worse, she says her parents' grave marker, plus a marble bench was missing.

She says getting help from the managers at the time was difficult. Finally, she says she found it herself, buried way under the dirt.

"They went and got all the equipment," Todd said. "Came, got this great big shovel and dug, went way underneath and the guy saw the markers there. It was about two, three feet down."

Todd says she and her husband filed a complaint with the state, but it went nowhere. To make matters worse, she says Restlawn never offered to help.

She says the thought of moving her parents' graves had come up in the past.

"They've been there since 1970 and 1978, respectively," Todd said. "So, we wouldn't want to. But we would like to see it better kept."

The previous owners, Southside Christian Charities, were operating Restlawn as an unlicensed cemetery, which means they didn't have to follow state codes and regulations.

The new owner tells Channel 4 he's in touch with the families about when the excavations will take place. He added he's doing all he can to make this situation right and that he hopes to have them complete in the next year or two.

Todd says she's very hopeful to see positive changes.

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