‘It’s disrespectful to the dead’: Franklinton families upset after decorations taken from ​tombstones

Local News

FRANKLINTON, N.C. (WNCN) — Some Franklinton families are upset after they learned flowers, lights, and other decorations were taken from their loved ones’ tombstones.

Debra Ferrell comes to the Fairview Cemetery often to visit her parents, her uncle, and her grandparents’ graves.

“I had angels about three feet tall that had a pipe in it in the ground so it wouldn’t fall out,” explained Ferrell. “It’s been there since 2000. They had pulled those up. They were lying on the ground.”

Now those angels, lights, and benches she had on her family’s tombstones are sitting in the trunk of her car.

“They even took flowers off the bases of my mom’s, uncle’s, and grandparents’ tombstones,” said Ferrell. “They were walking around taking the flowers up, they took the benches up. They took anything you had.”

At first some people thought it could be vandalism, until they learned the town was behind it.

“It’s disrespectful to the dead,” Ferrell said angrily. “I mean not only to the family but the people who are buried here. It’s just not right to go messing with people’s graves. That’s something pretty sacred.”

The Franklinton town manager says they passed an ordinance in June to do a cleanup twice a year at the cemetery.

“It just makes it easier for our guys to clean the spaces up and get it ready for holidays,” said Franklinton Town Manager Gregory Bethea.

The town says the things they got rid of during the cemetery clean up were things that really weren’t allowed to be here in the first place and they said they did notify people by advertising it in the local paper.

“There has been very lax enforcement so I think that not wanting to disturb people, we’ve been just letting it kind of go and unfortunately, we’ve also been getting complaints about how the cemetery’s looking because of all of the things here,” explained Bethea. “Lots of solar lights and flowers and bushes and other things that people were planting. At the same time, I think we certainly want to be sensitive of people having things that are of importance to them.”

CBS 17 has learned the town is storing the items collected and people can come pick them up. The town manager says they did learn a lesson from this and next time they do a cleanup they will notify loved ones by phone call or text.

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