Manor cemetery mistake leaves 2 families searching for answers
By Brigid Beatty
Published: Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
A supposed paperwork error resulting in a cemetery plot mix-up has left two local families searching for answers.
Linda Boswell of Ford City said she owns the deeds to two burial plots next to the two plots where her parents are buried at Holy Trinity Cemetery in Manor. She said her father bought all four plots in 1974 when her mother died.
But one of those plots was sold in error to a Manorville family.
Boswell said when she visited her parents' graves in late winter she was shocked to discover someone had been buried in one of her reserved plots.
“When I went up to the cemetery in March, I saw this grave,” she said. “I got my deed and went down to the church.”
Boswell is a member of Christ, Prince of Peace church in Ford City.
“Somebody at the church made the mistake,” Boswell said.
Joseph Fichthorn of Manorville was buried in Boswell's reserved plot in December.
His daughter Lindsay Fichthorn said she paid $500 to the church for a grave site for her father.
“We wanted him to be buried as close as we could get to his parents,” she said.
But several months later, Linsday Fichthorn said her sister, Lisa Virostek,was confronted by Boswell at a local restaurant saying the family needed to move their father from where he had been buried.
Lindsay and Lisa's brother Greg Fichthorn said the Rev. Bryan Summers, pastor at Christ, Prince of Peace, apologized saying the mix-up was the result of a paperwork error. The error had occurred when records from one book were transferred to another book. According to Greg Fichthorn, Father Summers had originally told him they didn't need to move their father.
However, Greg Fichthorn said he received another call from Summers last week saying the family had no choice but to move their father to another part of the cemetery.
Summers did offer the family four new plots free of charge, said Greg Fichthorn. He said he can see Boswell's side of things but added that his family does not want to exhume their father and go through the painful ordeal of reburial.
“We just need the situation rectified as soon as possible for everyone's sake,” he said.
Boswell said she has sympathy for the Fichthorns but is very upset over the ordeal.
“I'm not the bad guy. I had nothing to do with it,” said Boswell. “We're both victims here. I want the thing resolved.”
Greg's brother, Michael Fichthorn, said there are ways to handle the situation with dignity.
He said he has concerns about whether or not Christ, Prince of Peace has oversold other plots.
“It's been very difficult. It's nothing any of us has had to deal with before,” he said.
Summers said the church is investigating the matter. He declined to discuss details about the situation citing confidentiality issues concerning the families involved. Summers said he will follow Pennsylvania law and rules and regulations regarding Catholic Cemeteries but declined to discuss the issue further.
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