Mother: I couldn't put flowers on his grave, someone's buried on top of him

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Each blade of grass cut at Gilbert Cemetery is a small step toward closing a painful chapter in the cemetery's history.

"They don't even have a record that my child was buried here," said Nikeria Payne.

Last October The Attorney General's Office filed suit against the former caretaker Lymus Washington, who has yet to come forward.  They say he illegally and irresponsibly buried people here, losing track of where graves were and in some cases burying one corpse on top of another.

One of those lost graves is the infant son of Payne. She says her son was buried in 2004, but that a year later his headstone was gone, replaced by a marker of another grave.

"My son's birthday just passed. I couldn't even come and put flowers on his grave, because somebody else is on top of him," said Payne.

The Attorney General's Office office, along with councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis and others, is working to find a new operator.

"Everyone deserves a decent place to be buried. People want to come out here and put flowers on graves, but some of them can't even find where their loved ones are buried," said District Six Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis.

Gilbert cemetery is the final resting place of thousands, and it dates back to the early 20th century.

Lewis hopes to have every set of remains located and identified, so families like the Paynes can finally find closure.

Lewis says a new operator has been identified, and that the Attorney General's Office will soon begin the court proceedings to legal put the new operator in control.

According to the Attorney General's Office, officials will continue to work with families to locate and correct grave sites.

In the meantime, the East Baton Rouge Sheriffs Department has agreed to help keep the cemetery cleaned.

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