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Grave markers run over at Christiansburg Cemetery

By Orlando Salinas, osalinas@wdbj7.com
Published On: Feb 18 2014 08:18:34 PM EST

A cemetery is supposed to be sacred ground but one local cemetery isn't being treated that way. Two sisters from Pulaski County reached out to WDBJ7. They're upset about what they've seen at a cemetery in Christiansburg.

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. -

A cemetery is supposed to be sacred ground but two sisters say a cemetery in Christiansburg, isn't being treated that way.

WDBJ7 New River Valley reporter Orlando Salinas got an email and a phone call from Tina Grimshaw, who said recently she'd gone to visit her sisters and mother who are buried at Roselawn Cemetery, next to the New River Valley Mall.

What Grimshaw saw made her cry and then she became angry. She took this reporter on an impromptu tour and pointed out several grave markers that were either completely or partially covered in mud.

"This is a baby's grave. Obviously, [the baby] only lived a month, less than a month and [the maintenance crews] ran over it," Grimshaw said.

Grimshaw and her sister Robin Mitchell asked me to go with them to Roselawn Cemetery in Christiansburg. They said I'd be shocked by what I saw. Grimshaw leaned over and pointed out a grave marker that obviously belonged to a U.S. veteran. The grave marker was not part of a grave, not even remotely.

"This is a U.S. Marine who served our country and his marker's just sitting out here. It's not even on the grave. They didn't even take the time to put it back," Grimshaw said.

There were big, fat tread marks on dozens of grave markers on both sides of the cemetery.

The sisters stood and cried quietly next to the cemetery's edge. I asked what they were thinking, Grimshaw said it simply and through tears, "It disgusts me and I worry about me being buried here because this is where I own my plot."

I reached out to the parent company, StoneMor Partners, which owns Roselawn. I was told it can't help but run over some grave sites and markers but quote, "every year [our maintenance crews] come back and repair all of this."

We walked through a good portion of Roselawn and saw dozens of sites that had been run over. Both Grimshaw and Mitchell raced to the next marker, also run over with thick tire tracks and again, a veteran's grave, his wife buried next to him.

"As you see the tire marks. I'm gathering that the damage was done by the tractor. Here's a piece of the granite of the marker. What a disgrace for our military families."

StoneMor Property owns 31 cemeteries in Virginia and nearly 300 nationwide. I was told that it has not received a single complaint about its Roselawn property.

Grimshaw told me the same thing happened last year around March. Tire tracks all over people's grave markers.

"And I told them I would go public and they promised me that if I wouldn't go public with this, that they would have it fixed and it would never happen again," Grimshaw said.

The damage could be seen from several vantage points. Robin Mitchell walked hand in hand with her sister. We stopped and saw a freshly dug grave. The dirt had sunk in and it appeared maintenance crews had not come to fill it. Mitchell cried and said there was no excuse for what she was seeing.

"I worked at a cemetery years ago in Radford, Dublin, Pulaski County and I have never seen this. Never," Mitchell said.

We walked over to another grave marker and couldn't quite make out the one word because of the muddy tire tracks covering the name.

"Tell me what is it? It just says 'Mom' and it's got mud all over it."

Mitchell and Grimshaw want two things to happen; the company must fix the problems immediately, and promise that the desecration of these grave sites will "never happen again."