Woman finds caskets exposed at Baton Rouge cemetery

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge woman says she was told someone had been buried on top of her grandmother's grave. When she went to the Lutheran Cemetery in Baton Rouge, she found that was not true. But the condition of the cemetery caught her attention. The owners say they are well aware of how the grounds look, but there's nothing they can do about it right now.

The cemetery grounds on Eddie Robinson Drive are eerie for some, but for Natasha Tilley the cemetery is where she goes to remember her grandmother. From the fresh flowers at the other graves, it appears Tilley isn't the only one who checks on her family member.

But she says it's what she saw while she was there made her feel the dead are not being respected.

"They had graves open," said Tilley.

Several burial vaults are cracked open; half of a rusty gray casket is exposed in one. Another broken so badly, you can see a wooden box inside. There are also several that are stacked on top of each other.

"I called Lutheran Cemetery and the lady said they are aware there are graves open back here. But there's nothing they can do right now, because her husband can only do so much."

Lutheran Cemetery is owned by Edgar and Joanne Thomas. In a phone conversation, Joanne said Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac caused the damage. She says her husband is trying to find someone to help them make repairs.

Tilley says inside another grave she saw bones. She says when she told the owners about that, she was told that they weren't in the graves, their souls were with the Lord.

"Their remains were paid to be put away respectfully."

The owners say there's no funding to pay for the upkeep of the cemetery, and the families do not pay to keep the graves in good condition. We are told there's no record of who was buried here before 1995.

"No matter whether you know them or not, they don't deserve for their body to be exposed like that."

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