No wrongdoing seen in removal of cemetery

September 29, 2004|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

When Johnetta Miller and Robert LeRoy Mann learned this year of plans to build a house on a vacant lot on Cedarhurst Road in Finksburg, they wondered about the old family burial plot that used to be on the site.

Miller, who lives next to the property, recalled seeing two markers by her fence about 10 years ago. Mann, a former neighbor, also recalled seeing gravestones there decades ago.

Calls by Miller and Mann to a member of the local historical society prompted an investigation by the Carroll County state's attorney's office into what happened to the cemetery - whether anyone illegally moved tombstones or remains.

This month, Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes said a four-month investigation found no grounds for criminal charges, either for illegal disinterment of bodies or removal of tombstones.

A sheriff's deputy's report said there was evidence that the tombstones might have been removed by a former owner of the property on the 2800 block of Cedarhurst Road or his foster son - both now dead - but emphasized discrepancies in witnesses' recollections about the exact location of the cemetery and the number of stones, as well as the time and circumstances of their disappearance.

Barnes said he found no wrongdoing by a local funeral home that received a permit to remove and rebury any remains.

"The investigation seemed thorough," said George J. Horvath, a member of the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites Inc., who requested the probe. Horvath is also a member of the Historical Society of Carroll County. "Our concern, the coalition, is that it didn't resolve the matter as far as determining what happened and how many bodies were there."

Horvath said that he had reported the 19th-century Flinn Garner family cemetery as vanished when he was participating in a project, started in 1981, to inventory Carroll County cemeteries.

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