Stunning Grave Mix-Up Leads To $25 Million Lawsuit Against N.J. Cemetery

Edwards Sisters Found Out Plot They Visited For 20 Years Wasn't Their Mother's

LINDEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Two sisters from Rosedale, Queens are outraged after learning that the plot they’ve been visiting for over 20 years isn’t their mother’s grave.

Evelyn and Hortense Edwards were shocked to discover their mother, Beatrice, was buried in a different plot from the one they purchased at the Rosedale and Rosehill Cemetery in Linden, N.J., after she died in 1990.

First On 1010 WINS: The Sisters Tell Mona Rivera They Were Shocked

The discovery was made last June after the two complained the gravesite had fallen into disrepair.

A cemetery employee apparently told the sisters that, according to records, a man — not a woman — is buried in the site that the Edwards provided.

“I read her the lot number and she said, ‘That’s not your mother’s grave,'” Evelyn Edwards first told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera.

“I was shocked,” Hortense told CBS 2’s Don Dahler. “And then I said to her, you got to be kidding. For real?  She said yes.”

The sisters claim Rosedale and Rosehill had provided them with a certificate indicating the lot, section and grave of their mother. They visited that site more than 100 times — every Mother’s Day, every May 3 (their mother’s birthday) and anytime they felt the need to be closer to her.

“We told her all the time we miss her, we love her,” Evelyn said.

After the mix-up was discovered, Rosedale and Rosehill told the sisters that it had provided them with the wrong documentation and that their mother was in fact buried elsewhere. Cemetery officials told the Edwards sisters in order to verify that their mother was in fact in the other plot her coffin would have to be retrieved.

beatrice edwards Stunning Grave Mix Up Leads To $25 Million Lawsuit Against N.J. Cemetery

Beatrice Williams shortly before here death in 1990 (credit: Handout/Courtesy of the Edwards Family)

In a letter to 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera, the sisters’ lawyer, Stephen Drummond, said the cemetery forwarded a release to the Edwards asking them to assume all responsibility for the risk associated in retrieving the coffin.

This included any emotional distress caused to a third party if the coffin turned out not to be that of their mother, but the family member of someone else.

The sisters have filed a $25 million lawsuit in federal court in Brooklyn claiming breach of contract.

“Under the law, that money is simply to punish you, or hold you responsible so that you would not be inclined to do that again,” Drummond told Dahler.

According to the complaint, the sisters had been planning to share the single grave with their mother once they passed away and will now not be able to do so.

The complaint also states the sisters are not convinced the new grave location provided by the cemetery is correct and feel that their mother is not resting in peace.

The sisters say a piece of paper saying where their mother is, is not proof of where the body is. The cemetery has so far not actually physically located the body.

“I don’t want my mother there anymore, I don’t trust them,” Evelyn said. “Right now my concern is finding my mother’s grave.”

“We will seek a court’s order to get clarification as to exactly where (Beatrice Williams) is laid to rest,” Drummond  said.

The complaint states the sisters have suffered emotional distress, mental anguish, pain and suffering after visiting, praying and laying flowers at the wrong gravesite for over two decades.

The Edwards sisters fear other families may also be victims of this situation and want to raise awareness.

“Even though her spirit is long gone, it’s somewhere to go, to hold onto for someone who has been a part of our lives, our entire lives, and with whom we intended to maintain a relationship forever. And they’ve taken that from us,” Evelyn told Dahler.

Drummond said he thinks the location of bodies all over the cemetery are now suspect. He plans to bring this matter to the attention of the New Jersey State attorney general to see if there are more victims.

Officials at Rosedale and Rosehill have not commented. According to the website, there are seven people named Beatrice Williams buried there.

Sound off in our comments section below…

More from Mona Rivera
  • Ethel

    My mother and nephew is buried there. My brother was at the grave a few months ago, only to find the grass in that section dugged up. When he inquired about it, he was told they lay new grass twice a year. Sounds suspicious to me. I never heard of that and i’m sure it can become quite costly over the years. I will investigate further

  • elnora

    god bless you all . big bird

  • jerseyjoey

    There mother moved on , the two sisters have a good gripe and deserve $7.50 hour compensation for every hour visited at the grave and a refund for the grave site, thats being generous but 25 million, this is a joke, but then again anyone can file and sue, but winning and getting the settlement is another thing.

  • holy bananas

    who the hell visits a grave site for 20 yeARS
    20 YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

  • granolos

    WHO CARES? Embalming and burying the dead in coffins and standing around corpses crying is STUPID.

    • Clark A.


      • badman

        what’s your problem, Clark? granolos is right. what freaking difference does it make whether they were visiting her corpse or someone else’s? She’s DEAD.

        This is a frivolous law suit. Why exactly are these sisters traumatized? They’re letting this denigrate the memory if their mother? If so, it couldn’t have meant that much to them in the first place.

        The cemetery is bound by contract to fix this problem, but they should also countersue for legal fees. These sisters are parasites.

  • Me

    Bit confused here. Did they not attend the funeral? If they did, then why did they not question the site of burial then?

    • Bell

      …you belie your lack of education with your comment…and your lack of humanity. No real surprise though…

  • Bob Fowler

    Regardless of who and what went wrong, $25 million is just another attempt at hitting the lottery. Of course, the attorney getting their 1/3 is a mitigating factor in all of this (they are going to try to maximize their share), but this is a crystal clear example of why there is debate over tort reform. And before all of you jump up and down about blame, WE are the ones that are going to pay this claim. Insurance rates will go up just a smidge more, to offset the loss. So the only ones who will be held accountable will be those of us who will be paying the higher premium by way of higher prices.

  • Tom

    These chicks are looking for a lot of cash, but, ya know you can’t take the cash with you ,when your dead……………….

  • Bob Roberts

    To follow, there is help in the industry for cemeteries and funeral homes who find themselves operating just south of the law or best practices, but they don’t want to spend the money on that expertise. But here they pay for defense attorneys instead of doing the right things every day in every way. Doesnt’ make sense, does it?

    • turtle

      Nice ad for your company, Bob.

  • Bob Roberts

    I agree this situation is aggregious, and the cemetery certainly has the liability for their actions. But no jury in the country is going to side with these sisters with a price tag of $25 mil on the line. The average jury award for a trial that actually occurs and is not settled out of court, is currently running $6.2 mil. The sheer number they are asking for will bounce them from most courts or juries. That goes to plain greed, not mental suffering. I do agree that the cemetery should make this right, and hold themselves singly liable for any troubles concerning anyone who has to view the remains, but $25 mil? That is absolutely ludicrous, and the attorney taking their case should have his head examined and his license questioned for such a number.

    • Micha

      My thoughts exactly. While I agree that this must have been incredibly upsetting, 25 million is overkill. The cemetary should refund the money for the plot and pay for a new plot for the mom in a cemetary of the sisters choosing. If they purchased anything else from that cemetary, they should also be paid back. It seems like these sisters are upset, but also see this as a way to get rich. Not happening- taxpayers are burdened enough and no one seems to realize that when a lawsuit like this pays out, its the taxpayers who in fact foot the bill…

  • Gregory

    This sounds like a “slip shod” business and possibly criminal violations. These sisteres are doing the correct thing to get this awful situation clarified.

  • flea

    Arlington National Cemetary in Virginia can’t get thier graves straight either.

    • turtle

      Government run-what do you expect?

  • chanon

    my mother is buried there….they gave me info but i could never find the spot. i too am now suspicious of them. i have to start researching now. smh,shame on them

    • turtle

      Shame on them because you can’t find the grave? Each section at Rosehill is clearly marked (except the Chinese sections). the rows go in numerical order, and the section, row and grave #s are engraved right on the headstones. No I don’t work for the cemetery.

  • Dawn

    While I don’t necessarily agree with the attitudes of the above, Nec has a point! But I also would not trust this place either. It’s all business with these cemeteries and no respect. They are doing the right thing to raise awareness. As for me, well, I don’t believe in all these places (funeral parlors, cemeteries, etc) making money off someone’s death. When your dead, your dead. I had my parent’s cremated and I kept the ashes. I find it comforting to have them in the house. When I die, I would prefer to save my family a ton of money and just be cremated and maybe, weather permitting, have a BBQ celebration. You should be celebrating someone’s life, not mourning it!

    • chanon

      the same year my mom was buried i spent the summer in puerto rico. by my grandmas house there was a cemetary. i was 12 years old watching them take out a coffin and replace it with another, its disgusting. another time i watched the news and a funeral home was investigated. the bodies were never cremated. they were laying on top of other bodies behind a wall. this is ridiculous


      good for you Dawn…. same here, ,,,what a waste of money, we should celebrate death not mourn it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Very conservative

    Nice to hear that nobody is crying racism for a change. All parties involved must be black.

    • Ro

      Seriously, Really? How many Black people do you know Own Cemeteries? The Cemetery’s Staff are the ones who sell the plots and their Contractors perform the actual digging of graves. So what the Heck are you talking about?

      • turtle

        The people at the cemetery are not black (other than a few workers). For some reason, though, it is a popular burial site amongst black folk.

  • Peter

    just sue that will solve all problems.

    • Deanna

      Did you miss where the cemetery wants them to assume all financial responsibility for locating their mother? That is disgraceful. Of course they would sue-even if they don`t get the money, this will put the cemetery on the hook for fixing their mistakes at the very least.

      • turtle

        NEWSFLASH-N.J. has NO state regulatory commission for cemeteries. N.Y. does.

  • Nec

    Didn’t these two notice where their mom was being buried while at her funeral? Maybe they didn’t make it to the funeral while ransacking her house looking for money and valuables she may have left behind.

    • jtorres

      Cementaries are usually huge and after a while all the sections, markers and plots look the same. Grieving family members have a hard time focusing at that moment. Instead of blaming the sisters and assuming they’re looting their mother’s home, how about placing the blame where it belongs? It is the cementary’s responsibility to keep proper records and not slack off. The customers have a right to feel secure that after burying a loved one, he or she is where the cementary that charged the family so much money said they would be

      • chanon

        exactly. my mom was b uried there in 95. i was 12 and didnt know she was my mom til i was a senior in high school. now im putting my past together. theyre giving me info on where shes at but yet i havent located her. so would u say the same to me nec??????????? every situation has its details. shouldnt have to spell it out for u to be considerate of someones situation

      • Deanna

        Exactly. This cemetery is HUGE. Our uncle is buried there and I bring my grandmother twice a year and we sometimes get lost or confused, especially with new graves or headstones be added. It is unfair and a bit disrespectful to automatically thing they were robbing their mother instead of attending her funeral.

    • turtle

      The cemetery isn’t close to being huge. Rosedale (across the street) is bigger and 10x harder to find graves. Calvary in Queens is huge.

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