Family digs woman's grave after burial plot left unfinished before funeral

Published: Dec. 8, 2017 at 4:19 PM EST
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Athens Boones Creek Cemetery sits between two churches in Lexington. Krystina Gilbert's family arrived at the cemetery on Thursday to lay her in her final resting place. Gilbert died after a long battle with cancer. Her grandparents are buried in the cemetery as well. Heidi Lawson, Krystina's sister, says when the family showed up following Gilbert's funeral, they were shocked at what they found.

"We expected a normal setup where you would have a hole dug and maybe a tarp, or something nice, over the dirt and chairs and things, and when we got here, there was a man in basically construction clothes leaning against a shovel, smoking a cigarette," Lawson said.

Lawson says the grave was far from ready for burial. Krystina's husband, Roger, says the grave was supposed to be dug on Wednesday, but that the groundskeeper had just started Thursday morning. At that point, the hole was only a foot deep.

"So many emotions is going through me. I wanted to cry one minute," Roger Gilbert said. "I didn't know how to act."

"I was angry. You don't expect to pull up, and number one, see someone still digging the grave. That made me sick to my stomach," said Lawson.

Frustrated at the situation, family and friends grabbed shovels. They spent hours digging the grave so Gilbert could properly be laid to rest.

"Her husband, my fiance, her family, all the men in both families."

Lawson and several relatives went back to the cemetery on Friday. They found dirt still lying nearby the grave as well as a wheel barrel and shovels.

"I still feel anger from yesterday. Like I said, it's hard enough to bury a sibling," Lawson explained. "At least my family is the one who took care of her. I guess, family it all that matters. That's the one in the end who's going to take care of things."

Jerry Williams, a manager at the cemetery, says they've had issues with the employee who was supposed to dig the grave. He says they're searching to hire someone new.

"I can understand why they're really upset. The fellow that I had to dig didn't do the job right, and we've got a problem with it, and I can understand why they're pretty upset about it," Williams said. "They ran him off. They told them they didn't want him here and they said they were going to finish it. There was nothing I could do about that. I mean, we hire the people to do the work, and they're supposed to do it, and if they don't then, we just have to deal with it."

The family says they aren't asking for anything in return; they just want to make sure what happened to them doesn't happen to anyone else.