Discarded Gravestones Found on City of Lubbock Property - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/25/04

Discarded Gravestones Found on City of Lubbock Property

In less than two weeks, lawsuits have doubled against the City of Lubbock cemetery. Families are claiming gravestones have been removed, graves are not marked, and loved ones can not be found. On Tuesday, a turn of events; possible clues into the Lubbock Cemetery misfortune.

On May 21st, Lubbock investigators followed leads about a pile of concrete found at the city's Hancock Farm in Wilson, just south of Lubbock. The city bought the farm in 1999.

On the other side of the city's locked fence, investigators found a pile of at least 30 discarded grave stones. City officials held an emergency news conference after the city council meeting to tell about what they had just learned. "At this time, it looks as though all of those stones that were placed at Hancock Farm was back in the 1970's even as late as 1996. Again, prior to the city taking possession of that farm, were placed there," said Lubbock Mayor Marc McDougal.

"We know they have been there prior to 1999," said Claude Jones, Lubbock Police Chief. Chief Jones leads the investigation. He's currently determining whether or not the gravestones they found were stolen or improperly removed. "It was common practice for monument companies to have blemishes or broken headstones to be discarded to farmers in the area," says Jones.

Meanwhile, families keep coming forward filing lawsuits against Lubbock Cemetery and the city. Attorney Steve Claus says they're expecting close to 50 families to file. "Those 50 people probably represent somewhere close to 85-100 graves that have been misplaced," said Claus.

Investigators says they will be checking the names on the mysterious gravestones that were found to see if the city has any records of them at the Lubbock Cemetery.

Police Chief Jones says so far, they have not determined if there is a connection to the Lubbock Cemetery missing headstones.

NewsChannel 11 asked former City Manager Larry Cunningham, who served in the late 1970's, .if he recalls orders of clearing Lubbock Cemetery of gravestones. He told us "I think this is something we would have had a high level of interest in and I don't know anything about this."

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