WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Imagine going to bury your mother and finding out your family plot has been taken over by another family.
A West Palm Beach family says they were dealing with that nightmare after discovering their plot was full of strangers in Evergreen Cemetery.
They say some of the people appear to be distant cousins.
"I don't know any of these people in our plot. This was supposed to be just for us.... my great grandparents bought this plot," Brenda Lane said.
Lane says her mother passed away Tuesday and wanted to be buried in the family plot.
But Lane says there is no room because another family took over without their permission.
"My mother wanted to be buried here and her mother wanted her to be buried here. These were her plots.. it doesn't make sense. How could they do that? They have disregarded her property like she is nothing," Lane said.
West Palm Beach city officials Friday met with the family and found three additional plots near the family plot.
"I am so grateful. I know my mother is looking down laughing and smiling," Lane said.
The city says the cemetery was run by Evergreen Cemetery Association until about 2010 when the person in charge passed away. The city was cutting the grass up until then, but then had no choice but to take over the cemetery.
"The records we got were on index cards in wooden boxes. They were incomplete and did not even reflect the names on the tombstones. It was a mess," West Palm Beach city spokesman Elliot Cohen said.
Cohen says the cemetery was so disorganized the city decided to stop selling plots.
The city started a policy that required people to sign a legal affidavit saying they own the plot. Cohen says they had to do that because there were so few records.
"When you brought this to our attention we sent someone out there right away. They are going to go space by space and see if there is someway we can accommodate the family. We're trying to find a plot to keep this family as close as possible," Cohen said.
The family is thankful to the city for finding the additional three plots and hopes this doesn't happen to another family.
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