Greensboro woman heartbroken after brother’s headstone disappears from cemetery

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A graveyard mystery has a Greensboro woman upset about something that is no longer in a cemetery.

Janie Seagraves visited Proximity Cemetery on Phillips Avenue about a month ago to visit her loved one's graves. She has several family members who were buried in the cemetery dating back to the early 1900s.

During her visit, she noticed her older brother's headstone was nowhere to be found. Her brother, Ernest H. Watkins, died when he was just 2 years old after battling cancer.

"It breaks my heart that there's nothing here to let anybody know he was ever here," Seagrave said.

She told FOX8 she reached out to cemetery owner John Sweeper regarding the whereabouts of the head marker. She was told he had no idea.

When Sweeper took over the cemetery back in 2010, he wanted to revitalize the land because it was plagued with crime and overgrown weeds.

"I got together with a lot of my friends and buddies and started cleaning it up -- head markers were everywhere," Sweeper said.

Sweeper says he advertised for people to claim head markers that were scattered through the property so it could go back in it's the rightful place. As for the unclaimed ones, they are currently stored in the back of the cemetery.

"We contacted the city and asked the city, 'What about these markers here?' And they said, 'It's up to you what you want to do with them.' So, I took up all the markers up and moved it in the back in one row," Sweeper said.

Sweeper offered Seagrave the option to purchase another head marker for $650 and it could be placed in the cemetery.

"We don't have a reason to move the head markers, we install head markers and we want everyone to have a head marker. And the old ones here we will continue to maintain," Sweeper said.

But Seagraves wants to make sure it's going to be in the right spot before she purchases a new one.

"They have desecrated his grave, they have taken his marker which was the only thing left to show where he was at and now everything is gone," Seagraves said.

Proximity Cemetery is located at 2000 Phillips Ave. in Greensboro.

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