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Family Plans To Sue Woodlawn Cemetery Over Mother’s Missing Ashes

Cemetery Officials Claim The Remains Were Stolen
(credit: Jim Henderson/Wikipedia)

(credit: Jim Henderson/Wikipedia)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A family is heartbroken after their loved one’s remains went missing from a Bronx cemetery.

Elizabeth Delfini was 88 when she passed away in February. Her ashes were to be interred at Woodlawn Cemetery next to her husband with a stone tablet inscribed with both their names.

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa with Ferdinando Delfini


Her son, 60-year-old Ferdinando Delfini, was told it would all be in place in six to eight weeks but when he visited the cemetery in July he found a piece of plywood where the tablet should’ve been.

“They told me that the work had been done and that the tablet was in place and my mother’s ashes were interred next to my father,” Delfini said. “I tilted the plywood back, I was able to do that, and I found the niche next to my father was empty.”

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports the marker was found without the inscription in a shed and the ashes couldn’t be located.

Delfini said his family has no place to go to pay their respects and is planning a lawsuit against the cemetery for damages.

“I was shocked,” said Delfini, who has gone public to prevent this from happening to anyone else.

Woodlawn Cemetery President John P. Toale, Jr. said in a statement that Delfini’s remains had been stolen.

“Like the family we have been victimized by a thief who made off with Mrs. Delfini’s cremated remains,” the statement read. “We understand the heartbreak of her family and were surprised to learn late last week that they had engaged a new attorney, who has decided that the best interest of the family will be served through a very public discussion.”

Police are investigating the alleged theft but have no leads, Toale said.

“What is perplexing to us and to the NYPD investigators is that Mrs. Delfini’s cremated remains were stored in the same area of the mausoleum as four other deceased,” Toale said.

No other urns were taken.

“During Woodlawn’s 148 years of operation a situation of this nature has never occurred,” Toale said.

Attorney Susan Karten is pressing for a thorough investigation.