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Cemetery mix-up leaves Glendale family honoring an empty gravesite

Cemetery mix-up leaves Glendale family honoring an empty gravesite
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 10:57 AM MST
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GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - For Susie Roman and her three siblings, looking through old photos makes their mom feel a little bit closer.

“We miss her,” she said. “She was our mom. She was our dad. She was our everything.” Vera Perez passed away two years ago and was laid to rest at Resthaven Park Cemetery in Glendale. Her family went there often to pay their respects.

“Our religion, our faith, everything when it comes to death, that is something that is really sacred to us,” said Perez’s son, Angel Miranda. “That little plot means the world to us.” The siblings chose a cemetery-approved vase to mark the grave, but when it was installed, it wasn’t placed where they thought they had buried their mother.

“We weren’t getting any answers,” Miranda said. “We were assured three times actually that my mother was there.” So they started visiting the new plot. Birthdays, holidays, and even sports victories were all celebrated there. “My mom loved the Diamondbacks and the Suns,” Miranda said.

It felt like a sacred place. But several weeks ago, Perez’s children discovered they had been paying their respects at an empty grave. “When we went, there was a hole,” Roman said. “It’s scary for them to tell you she’s over here, and then you go, and there’s plywood, and you lift them up, and there’s a big hole.”

The plot where they thought their mom was buried was being prepared for someone else. “Since May of 2021, we’ve been honoring her in the wrong plot,” Miranda said.

The family demanded answers. The siblings showed up as a group, and employees at the cemetery accused the siblings of trying to disrupt another burial. Police were called, and the family was asked to leave the property.

“How do we take care of this? How am I supposed to know where my mom is when I’m not allowed to step foot on that property,” Miranda asked. “That’s all I want. I want to be able to see my mom.”

“Her day is coming. Mother’s Day,” Roman added, wiping away tears. “I can’t take my mom to eat no more. I can’t buy her stuff anymore, so that was the place that I would go. We just wish we could go see her.”

Perez’s children contacted 3 On Your Side when they were unable to get a resolution on their own. After we got involved, the manager of the cemetery apologized to the siblings for any misunderstanding and assured them they are allowed on the property to visit their mother’s grave.

In a statement to 3 On Your Side, Resthaven Park Cemetery said, “We take pride in delivering compassionate care to the families we are honored to serve. When a family has questions or concerns, we work with them to ensure they are addressed – as we have in this instance. We are confident the family is aware of the location of their loved one’s final resting place, and we are confident that we have done everything possible to alleviate their concerns.”

The cemetery has offered to install a permanent grave marker at Perez’s burial plot.